Despite Mahindra having the rights to the original Willys design.
The Jeep Wrangler's design is iconic. Period. Inspired by the legendary Willys Jeeps of World War II but brought into the modern era, there's no off-roader more instantly identifiable.
So it's understandable that FCA - now Stellantis - was upset when Indian automaker Mahindra launched a car called the Roxor that looked almost identical to the original Willys Jeeps.
Long story short, FCA sued Mahindra, US courts ordered Mahindra to stop selling the Roxor - which wasn't road legal anyway - until certain design elements were changed, and Mahindra then redesigned the grille and continued business as per usual. The court even agreed that the Roxor was not a Wrangler copycat, and since Mahindra owns the rights to the Willys Jeep design and has since 1947, it shouldn't have ever been an issue in the first place.
But Fiat Chrysler won't leave well enough alone and is still trying to stop Mahindra from selling the Roxor in America.
As reported by Reuters, the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals believes a Detroit federal court applied incorrect standards when it declared that post-2020 Roxors - the facelifted ones - would not confuse consumers, which was the whole grounds for FCA's legal argument. The original verdict hinged on the International Trade Commission's (ITC) affirmation that the Roxor's design was sufficiently different and that the average person would immediately realize it was not a Jeep.
The 6th Circuit alleges that because Mahindra is a "known infringer" of intellectual property law, the court should've held it to a higher standard.
With the new information, it seems FCA/Stellantis can have proceedings re-opened, and the case has currently been sent back to the Detroit court that previously gave judgment to decide whether the "safe distance" of the Roxor's design is, in fact, safe enough in terms of its similarity to a Wrangler.
A Mahindra spokesperson has reiterated the company is not worried and expects any future verdicts to be "consistent with the previous rulings."
While the original Roxor's five-slot grille may have been misconstrued by some as similar to Jeep's iconic seven-slot item, the new face is anything but. And since Mahindra owns the Willys Jeep design, it seems to us like Fiat Chrysler is picking on the little guy. The Roxor, or Thar as it's known in some markets, is a competent little off-roader, but in the US is not even street legal, meaning it is sold exclusively as an off-road terrain traverser.
If Jeep wants to continually chase after brands with similar design traits, maybe it might go after the GMC Hummer next - after all, that has a six-bar grille very similar to the concept Jeep is using on the Wagoneer S EV.