It's all because of a single word.
Competition among automakers is expected and necessary. Always has been and always will be. Everyone understands that. But these companies are also super protective of their trademarks. The latest example of this legal hurdle began last month when General Motors sued crosstown rival Ford over the use of the word "cruise."
GM has a problem with Ford's BlueCruise hands-free driving system because it believes the name is too similar to its own, Super Cruise. The General further points out it announced its technology in 2012, several years before the Blue Oval did so. But Ford is having none of this and it's fighting back.
The Detroit Free Press reports Ford has sent a request to the US Patent and Trademark Office asking to rescind GM's "Cruise" and "Super Cruise" trademark registrations. A Ford spokesperson says those names never should have been registered to begin with and rescinding them guarantees "that it and the industry as a whole can freely use the word 'cruise' to safely describe their driver-assist technologies."
GM's response to Ford's request was essentially the same as before, that it launched Super Cruise first and, therefore, is entitled to the name. Ford says GM's lawsuit is "meritless and frivolous" and that the automaker had no choice but to fight this. Take cruise control, for example.
It's a decades-old technology and every automaker uses this term. It could take some time for the USPTO to officially respond since the issue is now in the hands of lawyers. The BlueCruise semi-autonomous driving technology has already been successfully tested in examples of the Ford Mustang Mach-E and F-150. A larger rollout to additional models is planned.
On the one hand, it's easy to understand GM's frustration but, in reality, it's highly unlikely buyers will confuse the two, let alone care. The two automakers reportedly tried to settle their differences but once GM determined this wouldn't be possible, it proceeded to file its lawsuit.