Earlier this year, Jaguar Land Rover launched twin lawsuits against Bombardier Recreational Products, (BRP) over the Canadian manufacturer’s use of the name “Defender” for one of its Can-Am brand off-road utility all-terrain vehicles.
The lawsuits were brought in England’s High Court of Justice, and in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan here on this side of the pond.
Both cases revolve around Land Rover’s claims that Bombardier’s use of the name deliberately seeks to trade on the unique attributes and world-wide success of the renowned Defender brand.
Land Rover has already prevailed in the High Court case, with BRP facing damages and agreeing to both pull its trademark application and cease use of the Defender name throughout the EU.
In the US case, which is still ongoing with motions filed as recently as January 3rd, Land Rover claims BRP illegally applied for a trademark with the US Patent and Trademark Office and asked the agency to cancel JLR’s Defender trademark registration.
The official complaint reads:
BRP’s adoption and use of Defender is an intentional and obvious attempt to trade on the goodwill established in JLR’s Defender mark…since at least 1992, long prior to BRP’s first use of the Defender mark, JLR and/or its licensees have continuously used the Defender mark in interstate commerce in connection with the JLR goods and services… JLR’s Defender mark has become widely and favorably known throughout the United States, and is a valuable asset of JLR and a symbol of its goodwill. Customers have come to associate and identify the JLR Defender mark exclusively with JLR.
Whatever the outcome of the Michigan case, it seems unlikely that JLR wouldn’t appeal a ruling in BRP’s favor. As we saw earlier this year when a UK businessman proposed building his own Defender replacement, Jaguar Land Rover are not quite ready to give up on the Defender nameplate.
Keith Benjamin, legal director of JLR, said:
We welcome (the High Court) ruling, recognizing the enforceability of our intellectual property rights and preventing use by third parties. The Land Rover Defender is an iconic vehicle that is part of Jaguar Land Rover’s past, present and future. The success of our business is based on unique design and engineering attributes, and we intend to protect the brand robustly around the world.
Note: Press release courtesy of Jaguar Land Rover.