(Not) For Your Eyes Only: Jaguar Land Rover Loses Bid to Squash Defender Lookalike
Imitation, as the saying goes, is the sincerest form of flattery, but Jaguar Land Rover’s been burned in the past, what with a certain Chinese automaker rolling out near carbon copies of its Range Rover Evoque crossover.
In the Defender lies far more heritage, but JLR just lost a bid to keep the visual rights to the boxy off-road beast in the UK, paving the way for British sales of a model that looks very similar to the much-loved previous-generation model.
As reported by Autocar, a UK court has rejected JLR’s effort to secure trademark rights for the envelope of its old Defender. This is music to chemical firm Ineos’ ears, as it intends to build the Grenadier — a model so steeped in British SUV design history, you’d think it came with a free FN FAL rifle and a land claim in Rhodesia.
Yes, it looks an awful lot like the old Defender, even after Ineos changed the grille to less resemble JLR’s property after the automaker hauled it into court. The legal battle against Ineos has raged for 4 years, with JLR appealing a 2019 ruling that said the Defender’s shape was too common to trademark. This week, the country’s High Court dismissed the appeal, claiming the original “verdict” from the UK’s Intellectual Property Office stands.
In a statement, JLR noted its disappointment in the ruling, given that the Defender’s shape is already trademarked in a number of other markets. “The Land Rover Defender is an iconic vehicle which is part of Land Rover’s past, present and future,” it said. “Its unique shape is instantly recognisable and signifies the Land Rover brand around the world.”
Ineos responded by saying that the Defender’s design “does not serve as a badge of origin for JLR’s goods” and confirmed it will press ahead with plans to launch the Grenadier in 2021.
In the U.S., JLR was successful in trademarking its Defender design.
As for the actual vehicle itself, there remains some uncertainty about where exactly the Grenadier will be built. Ineos could carry on with its original plan to built it in Portugal before bringing it to the UK for finishing, though it’s reportedly engaged in talks to purchase a future-less Daimler plant in France.