Land Rover loses Defender trademark case against Ineos Grenadier

UK court rejects JLR’s claim that the Land Rover Defender’s shape belongs to them, freeing Ineos to proceed with its Grenadier model.

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has officially lost its UK court bid to secure the trademark rights for the shape of its old Defender 4×4, allowing chemicals firm Ineos to proceed with production of its similarly-styled Grenadier.

JLR, which has been pursuing cases to trademark the Defender’s name and exterior look for four years, first lost in court in 2019 in a long-running battle with Ineos owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe.  It then lodged an appeal in the high court, which has now been dismissed.

The judge in the case upheld findings by the Intellectual Property Office that the shapes JLR sought to protect were not distinctive enough to trademark. They claimed that while some enthusiasts may see the differences in design as significant, they “may be unimportant, or may not even register with average consumers”.

In a statement, JLR noted its disappointment in the ruling, with the Defender’s shape 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,”, the firm said. “Its unique shape is instantly recognisable and signifies the Land Rover brand around the world.”

Ineos responded, 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.

There is still no clarity as to whether the rugged model will be produced in Portugal and finished in the UK as planned, or whether Ineos will instead purchase Daimler’s factory in Hambach, France and move operations there.

Lawrence Allan

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