In a setback to Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M), the US International Trade Commission (ITC) has ruled that the complaint filed by Fiat Chrysler alleging violation of intellectual property rights by the former will not be dismissed and investigation will continue. Last year, Fiat Chrysler had filed a complaint with the ITC stating that certain design features of the Mahindra Roxor infringe the intellectual property rights of Fiat s Jeep design.
Stating that the complaint is without merit, M&M along with its subsidiary Mahindra Automotive North America (MANA), had filed a public interest statement with the ITC and a complaint at the Federal District Court, Michigan, seeking an injunction against Fiat from proceeding with the ITC complaint filed by it.
In response to the injunction sought, the administrative law judge has passed an initial determination order, which holds that the complaint filed by Fiat Chrysler will not be dismissed at this stage and that the investigation by the ITC will continue. In November, the investigative staff appointed by the ITC had barred Fiat Chrysler from pursuing the investigation further, saying Mahindra s Roxor uses the approved grille design. However, the commission did not accept the findings of the investigative staff.
The company has received an Initial Determination Order from ITC, M&M said in a regulatory filing on Monday. As per the complaint filed, Fiat Chrysler had sought an order for permanently restraining the M&M from exporting, and MANA from importing, any parts or components which are infringing upon Fiat’s intellectual property rights into the US.
Although there is no monetary claim such as compensation or damages, if Fiat Chrysler succeeds in its complaint, M&M will not be able to export parts or components to the US and MANA and importing the same in to the US will also be affected.
Read Also| Zolo raises $30 million in Series-B funding
Fiat is using the ITC case to harm our RO XOR business by creating negative publicity, damaging our reputation and our stature in the marketplace, M&M said in the complaint in Federal Court in Michigan.
Fiat Chrysler, in its complaint, alleged that Roxor imports will threaten the sales of Jeep, due to its lower price. Fiat, in recent times, has seen its sales go up on the back of success of Jeep product line.
M&M launched the Roxor SUV in March 2018 in the US, priced at $15,000. Powered by 2.5 litres, 4 cylinder diesel engine, the Roxor is based on the Thar with no doors and no hard top roof and without a windscreen. The company exports kits of the Roxor in CKD form which is later assembled in the US.
Speaking to analysts earlier, Pawan Goenka, managing director, M&M said, We are looking to sell 4,500-5,000 Roxors by end of this financial year.”