Jaguar Land Rover loses court bid to secure trademark Defender design

UK court rejects assertion that 4x4’s shape belongs to JLR, freeing Ineos to proceed with Grenadier.

By Lawrence Allan, Autocar UK calendar 05 Aug 2020 Views icon4961 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has officially lost its UK court bid to secure the trademark rights for the shape of its old Defender 4x4, 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 a High Court appeal, which has now been dismissed.

The judge in the case upheld findings by the Intellectual Property Office that the shapes JLR sought to protect weren't 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, 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.

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

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