Jaguar Land Rover’s (JLR) efforts to thwart billionaire businessman Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s plans to model the shape of his new 4×4 on JLR’s Defender have failed.
The Sunday Times today reported that Ratcliffe, the founder of Ineos, had won his challenge to JLR’s attempt to trademark the Defender’s shape.
Ratcliffe, who is planning to build the Grenadier in Bridgend in south Wales, has been locked in a long-term battle with JLR over the Defender’s design, on which he has had designs for several years.
In 2016, Ineos said that it would treat the Defender’s “much-loved shape like a listed building”.
The project is designed to fill the gap left by JLR’s car, which ceased production in 2016 because the model no longer met modern environmental and safety standards.
The company is due to release a replacement model, which is being manufactured in Slovakia with the latest technology, in early 2020.
Initially, Ratcliffe tried to buy manufacturing equipment for the Defender from JLR, but was rejected.
The company, which is a subsidiary of Indian automotive firm Tata Motors, then sought to trademark six variants, from the original 1948 model to the 2016 edition.
However, last month the Intellectual Property Office decided that the Defender’s shape was not different enough from that of other 4×4 models for a trademark to be justified.
JLR is fighting the verdict in the High Court. The company said: “The Defender is an iconic vehicle which is part of Jaguar Land Rover’s past, present and future.
“Its unique shape is recognised around the world, with the heritage shape being protected in other key markets.”
JLR is fiercely protective of its Defender. In 2016, it prevented a Canadian company from using the name ‘Defender’ for an all-terrain vehicle.
Ratcliffe, who is third on the Sunday Times rich list with £18.2bn, agreed a deal in September to manufacture the new car at Brocastle in Wales, near to a Ford plant which is due to close in 2020 with the loss of 1,700 jobs.
It is hoped that the new project will provide up to 500 jobs.
Main image credit: Getty