Land Rover may have introduced a radically different and more modern-looking Defender, but that doesn’t mean they wanted rival SUVs looking like the old one.
Unfortunately for Land Rover, it has lost a UK court bid to trademark the shape of the original Defender, allowing Ineos to go ahead with its Grenadier, which is heavily inspired by the old Landie.
The UK High Court dismissed an appeal from Jaguar Land Rover on Monday, upholding the UK Intellectual Property Office’s finding last year that the shapes the company wanted to trademark weren’t distinctive enough.
J Mays, the former design chief for Ford, provided expert testimony in the 2019 proceedings.
He argued the Defender’s stamped body panels, offset spare wheel and alpine windows, among other features, resulted in a “difference in the overall shape of the vehicle from the norms and customs of the SUV sector.”
“It is that shape which makes the Land Rover Defender so distinctive and acts as a visual receipt to the customer that it is a Land Rover Defender.”
Judge Melissa Clarke upheld last year’s ruling, in which Allan James, the Senior Hearing Officer of the IP office, determined, “Mr Mays is a design expert. Differences in design that appear important to him may be unimportant, or may not even register, on average consumers of passenger cars.”
James also pointed out some of the features Jaguar Land Rover had argued made the Defender design so unique weren’t visible in the marks applied for.
The ruling clears an obstacle for the Ineos Group, a petrochemical company owned by billionaire Sir James Ratcliffe, and allows it to continue with plans to introduce the Grenadier next year.
Ineos initially announced the Grenadier would be introduced in 2022 and manufactured in a plant in Portugal and shipped to Wales for final assembly.
However, Ineos recently entered talks with Daimler to purchase the company’s Smart factory in Hambach, France, which is rather ironic as Sir James was a prominent Brexit supporter.
For our detailed look at the Ineos Grenadier, check out our feature.