The problem is with the name.
Ford introduced its BlueCruise hands-free driving system last April as a direct rival to the likes of Tesla's Autopilot. Over 100,000 miles of real-world testing had already been completed at the time of the announcement. Examples of the Ford Mustang Mach-E and F-150 took part in that testing. All in all, it was an impressive and very promising debut, but now it's hit a snag. In short, the technology is fine. The "BlueCruise" name is the problem.
The Detroit Free Press reports that General Motors has sued its longtime rival over that name, claiming it's way too similar to its own hands-free driving system, "Super Cruise." The automaker released the following statement after filing suit: "GM's Super Cruise hands-free driver assistance technology was announced in 2012 and has been used commercially in-market since 2017. Our majority-owned self-driving subsidiary Cruise has been in business since 2013.
"While GM had hoped to resolve the trademark infringement matter with Ford amicably, we were left with no choice but to vigorously defend our brands and protect the equity our products and technology have earned over several years in the market. As this is a matter of pending litigation, we have no further comments at this time."
No details were provided regarding those good-faith negotiations prior to the lawsuit, but the GM didn't mince words when it ultimately did pursue this legally. "Ford knew exactly what it was doing. If Ford wanted to adopt a new, unique, brand, it easily could have done so without using the word "Cruise," as shown by Ford's branding for the same automated driving technology in their luxury car models: Ford branded this same enhancement to its automated driving system in luxury models, such as the Lincoln, as the "ActiveGlide" feature."
GM is demanding monetary damages and for Ford to drop the "BlueCruise" name altogether. Ford responded to the lawsuit by calling it "meritless and frivolous" and made an interesting point a judge might ultimately agree with: "Drivers for decades have understood what cruise control is, every automaker offers it, and "cruise" is common shorthand for the capability. That's why BlueCruise was chosen as the name for the Blue Oval's next evolution of Ford's Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control."
Ford is right. Other automakers use "cruise" for their hands-free driving systems, like BMW's Active Cruise Control and Hyundai's Smart Cruise Control. It's up to a judge to decide what happens next.