CHICAGO -- The grille of the Hummer H2 does not infringe on the Jeep trademark, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Monday, Nov. 18.
The ruling was a blow to the Chrysler group, which had sued General Motors to stop it from using the H2 grille design. DaimlerChrysler claimed the grille, which features seven vertical slots, looked too much like the Jeep grille design, which also contains seven vertical slots.
The three-judge appellate panel denied Chrysler's request for an injunction, finding that the automaker "showed virtually no chance of success" on its claims that the H2 grille diluted or infringed on the Jeep grille design.
The appeals court upheld an earlier district court ruling that found that DaimlerChrysler wouldn't be able to prove that it had a "family of marks" that identify Jeep vehicles.
Also upheld were rulings that DaimlerChrysler waited too long to file an objection to the H2 grille design and that it couldn't prove consumer confusion between the grille designs of the H2 and Jeep vehicles.
Chrysler is reviewing its appeal options, spokeswoman Ann Smith said.
The $50,000 H2, which went on sale in June, is the first new vehicle from Hummer since GM acquired the brand name in 1999. Hummer also builds the H1, a low-volume civilian model of the Humvee military vehicle that captured the public's eye during the Gulf War in 1991.
The dispute revolves around the shared history of Hummer and Jeep. The former American Motors Corp. purchased Jeep in 1969, establishing a military vehicle division called AM General and a separate Jeep division for mass-market vehicles.
In 1982, American Motors spun off AM General. The former Chrysler Corp. purchased American Motors, including Jeep, in 1987.
AM General developed the Humvee for the military, and later the Hummer for civilian customers. AM General, an independent company, assembles the H1 and H2, but GM owns the brand and marketing rights.
While the H2 does not compete directly with Jeep vehicles, a future H3 model is expected to be priced at around $30,000, posing a direct challenge to Jeep. GM expects to sell 35,000 to 40,000 H2s annually, compared with H1 annual sales of around 1,000.