JLR fails in trademark legal battle over iconic Defender

Jaguar Land Rover has failed in a legal challenge to get the trademark rights for the iconic Land Rover Defender.

The decision means Ineos Automotive is now free to press ahead with its Grenadier off-roader without fear of legal action.

The Grenadier has been dubbed the spiritual successor to the Defender.

On Monday (August 3) a High Court judge dismissed an appeal by Jaguar Land Rover’s parent company Tata Motors.

The UK Intellectual Property Office had found the shapes it sought to get protected were not distinctive enough.

The judge upheld the findings by the IP Office that while differences in design may appear significant to some specialists, they “may be unimportant, or may not even register, with average consumers”.



The Ineos Grenadier

The Grenadier, which is being bankrolled by chemical billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe, was unveiled at the end of June.

A boxy utilitarian SUV, it certainly bears a strong resemblance to the Defender but that came as no surprise whatsoever.

Sir Jim, who is the funder and boss of chemical giant Ineos, is an avowed Defender fan.

When production of the Land Rover Defender came to an end in Solihull in January 2016 after a production run of almost 70 years, he wanted to buy the old production line and continue building it.

Jaguar Land Rover refused, prompting Sir Jim to embark on a mission to deliver his own take on a go-anywhere rugged off-roader inspired by the Defender.

That saw the establishment of Ineos Automotive to develop the Grenadier.

Research and development has taken place rapidly and plans were announced to build the vehicle in Portugal and South Wales.

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However, following the unveiling of the Grenadier it emerged Ineos might instead build the factory in France in a former Daimler factory.

The High Court Defender trademark case was first reported by the Telegraph.

Jaguar Land Rover said in a statement that it was disappointed by the ruling and that the Defender’s shape has been trademarked in several markets.

The statement said: “The Land Rover Defender is an iconic vehicle which is part of Land Rover’s past, present and future.

“Its unique shape is instantly recognizable and signifies the Land Rover brand around the world.”

The ruling confirmed “that the shape of the Defender does not serve as a badge of origin for JLR’s goods”.

Ineos welcomed the ruling and said in a statement: “We continue with our launch plans and are excited to bring the Grenadier to market in 2021.”