JUDGE JEEP JUDY MEETS JUDGE GM BROWN
Why can't we all just get along?
DaimlerChrysler Files Suit to Block Copycat Jeep® Grille Says GM'S New Hummer Violates Jeep Trademark and GM Files back seeking legal protection for use of the HUMMER grille design and GM's federally registered trademark for
Earlier this year DaimlerChrysler Corporation filed suit against General Motors Corporation for what they claim to be appropriating one of the world's most recognizable automobile features in order to enhance the appeal of GM's new Hummer sport utility vehicle. Basically the new Hummer looks too much like the trademarked Jeep - at least when it comes to the grill.
According to Daimler Chrysler the lawsuit was brought to protect their trademarked Jeep® grille design, which is protected by three federal trademark registrations and has been made famous though over 50 years of use on Jeep vehicles. They said that an independent analysis conducted by a respected market research firm confirmed that the new H2 design is likely to
mislead potential SUV buyers. When shown photographs of the new H2, nearly two-thirds of all Jeep Grand Cherokee and Jeep Cherokee owners, who took part in the survey, incorrectly associated the new H2 with a DaimlerChrysler vehicle, and more than half of other SUV owners reached the same conclusion. When asked why they identified the H2 as a DaimlerChrysler vehicle, most respondents referred to the distinctive Jeep grille design.
In its suit filed in U.S. District Court in Toledo, Ohio, DaimlerChrysler is asking the court to block GM's use of the Jeep grille; force GM to recall any H2s distributed with the Jeep grille; account for all profits derived from the use of the Jeep grille; and award DaimlerChrysler damages for trademark infringement and other violations.
Well GM responded by filing for a declaratory judgment seeking legal protection for use of the HUMMER grille design and GM's federally registered trademark for
that design. Their stand is as follows:
DaimlerChrysler waived any claim they may have had against the HUMMER grille by remaining silent while AM General manufactured and sold the HUMMER for 16 years, including the civilian version since 1991. Chrysler gave public notice in 1995 that it did not oppose AM General's registration of a U.S. trademark for exclusive, nationwide use of the HUMMER grille design on trucks of every size and type. Consequently, AM General officially was granted that exclusive trademark registration from the United States Patent
and Trademark Office in 1996. GM acquired the HUMMER brand and related grille trademark from AM General in December 1999, relying on the unopposed trademark registration. DaimlerChrysler did not object until after the transaction had been completed. GM also stated the distinctive HUMMER grille has remained the same since the vehicle was introduced by AM General nearly two decades ago. Jeep, meanwhile, has used a variety of grille designs on various models during that period.
We leave it up to you and the jury to decide. E-mail your thoughts to