We’ve already heard the jokes and seen the memes since the Monday night reveal of the all-new 2021 Ford Bronco. “The new Bronco looks like a Jeep,” people say. We see the resemblance and are reminded of a recent Jeep lawsuit in which the iconic FCA vehicle‘s feelings got hurt because Mahindra’s Roxor off-road vehicle looked too much like a Jeep Wrangler. Will Ford see the wrath of the FCA lawyers over the Bronco design?
FCA vs. Mahindra: Jeep lawsuit
According to Bloomberg, the FCA lawyers got busy fighting the case against Mahindra’s side-by-side off-road recreational vehicle. It’s not meant to be legal on normal roads. It is a designated off-roader, but it has been decided this summer that it looks way too much like a Jeep Wrangler. This will be a daunting blow to Mahindra, which is already suffering due to slowed sales in the wake of the pandemic-induced shutdowns and slowed the global economy.
In a filing with the commission, Mahindra said its new models aren’t in violation, and that Fiat Chrysler is trying to grab “a practical monopoly over the import and sale of components used in any boxy, open-topped, military-style vehicle.”Susan Decker and Anurag Kotoky | Bloomberg
Though the Mahindra Roxor side-by-side isn’t meant to drive on roads and isn’t really in competition with the Jeep Wrangler due to that fact, the Judge still ruled in favor of FCA. The Mahindra’s style is too evocative of the Jeep Wrangler’s grille design and other components. Apparently, using the Wrangler’s design for inspiration is just too much for the Jeep brand to handle.
We suppose that FCA forgot that mimicry can also be the highest form of compliment. Maybe the Jeep brand felt a little insecure about the upcoming Ford Bronco release. Either way, they won the Jeep lawsuit over trade dress infringement.
“Trade dress infringement exists when one producer uses a trade dress that is similar enough to another’s trade dress to cause a likelihood of confusion.”Jay Ramey | Automotive News
Is the Ford Bronco safe?
Ford Probably isn’t worried. Memes and jokes aside, the 2021 Ford Bronco does share some traits with the classic Wrangler, such as the ability to remove the top and doors. It’s also boxy. But then again, so was its predecessor.
In a filing with the commission, Mahindra said its new models aren’t in violation, and that Fiat Chrysler is trying to grab “a practical monopoly over the import and sale of components used in any boxy, open-topped, military-style vehicle.”Bloomberg
The Jeep Wrangler and the Ford Bronco each have military roots and boxy forefathers. It appears entirely within the rights of the Bronco to look the way it does. And, while they both look similar, there are striking differences. The grille designs––boxy as they are––are not the same. Round headlights can be found on a number of vehicles, including the old “bug-eye” Subaru Impreza WRX and the Volkswagen Beetle.
We are pretty confident that this lawsuit would never come to fruition. The Jeep lawsuit will probably stop at the Mahindra case, for now. Though we are certain that the Wrangler – Bronco rivalry is just heating up. Over the next few years, it will be interesting to watch. Each brand will likely do whatever they can to continue topping the other.
It is sure to be an exciting battle of the off-roaders. Sometimes competition gives way to innovation. This might be the catalyst of some very exciting off-road-related auto inventions that we will see roll out over the next few seasons. Who will reign supreme?