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Shapes help forming associations. The phrase highly attracts human kind as well. Oftentimes, we recognize a familiar looking person in a public place just from a little glimpse. The same goes for goods. From afar, one can make out between a KitKat and Cadbury bar, a Limca and a Coca-Cola bottle and similarly, a Heineken and a Budweiser. All this suggests how greatly shapes contribute to a brand’s image and goodwill. In India, this unconventional form of trademark was introduced through an amendment to meet the changing times. Be it a product or a cartoon character, shape distinction is apparent and thus, requires protection. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean the giants always win the shape war. Clearly Tata’s Jaguar Land Rover didn’t.
Held by Jaguar Land Rover Limited and a subsidiary of Tata Motors, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is an epitome of luxury. This “Riches Toy” dates back to the 1930s, earlier separate entities but merged into one in 1968. Since 2008, JLR has been a subsidiary of 75-year old Tata Motors Limited. With its amazing collection comprising of Defender, Discover, Range Rover, its Evoque and Sports version, amongst numerous others, JLR never ceases to bring out the best.
Astoundingly, in a recent hearing JLR failed to convince the Court, that its Defender has a distinctive shape. The situation came after the Ineos Group decided to launch their brand-new Grenadier model. Which, JLR believes to be extremely similar-looking, almost like a replica of its Defender.
Introduced by the 67-year old billionaire, Jim Ratcliffe, the upcoming Grenadier is designed for Jungle Safaris and excursions. Without a doubt, this tough built rugged four-wheeler car is much similar in appearance to the JLR Defender. Even Ratcliffe agrees that Ineos Grenadier is highly inspired by Defender. Gloom and doom on JLR since it failed to draw out distinctive merits on the unique shape its robust yet lavish model, Defender.
While drawing out comparisons between the two, the United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) did not find any distinctiveness as such attached to the Defender and the Court followed its opinion. The judge while upholding UKIPO’s decision observed that Defender’s designs although stands significant to some experts, in reality “they may be unimportant, or may not even register, with average consumers.” And, just like this JLR lost a shape battle.
Unhappy and disappointed by the ruling, JLR stated, “The Land Rover Defender is an iconic vehicle which is part of Land Rover’s past, present and future.” It was added, “The unique shape is instantly recognizable and signifies the Land Rover brand around the world.”