One of the world’s most distinctive shapes, the classic Land Rover Defender, is not unique enough an Appeal Court judge has decided.
Jaguar Land Rover sought to get the trademark rights for the shape of the Defender SUV, but it failed and means billionaire Jim Ratcliffe’s Ineos Group can go ahead with the Grenadier off-road vehicle, which he admits was inspired by Defender.
A London court on Monday dismissed an appeal by JLR, owned by India’s Tata Motors Ltd. The UK Intellectual Property Office had found the shapes it sought to get protected weren’t distinctive enough.
The judge upheld the findings by the IP Office that while differences in design may appear significant to some, they “may be unimportant, or may not even register, with average consumers.” Grenadier is a tough four-wheel drive vehicle (right) that was going to be built in Wales until Ineos decided to assemble it in France instead at a former Daimler factory.
JLR said in a statement that it was disappointed by the ruling and that the Defender’s shape has been trademarked in several markets. This could mean the right to sell the Grenadier may be challenged in those markets where JLR has secured its trademark over the Defender.
“The Land Rover Defender is an iconic vehicle which is part of Land Rover’s past, present and future,” the company said. “Its unique shape is instantly recognisable and signifies the Land Rover brand around the world.”