RAC Cars News


Land Rover has Defender name protected

By raccars Published


High Court rules in Land Rover’s favour after Canadian makers give Defender name to off-road buggy.

A Canadian manufacturer is being forced to change the name of its off-road buggy after JLR took the company to court to maintain the exclusivity of the Defender.

A Consent Decree has been issued by the High Court of Justice to put an end to a dispute between Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP), which makes snow and rugged off-road vehicles, and Jaguar Land Rover. The Defender name has long been associated with Land Rover’s utilitarian off-roader but BRP decided to use the title for what it termed a ‘fun’ and ‘recreational off-roader’.

The court ruled, however, that there had been an infringement of copyright and now BRP must change the name. BRP will have to abandon its ambitions to achieve an EU trademark applying to the Defender name and will have to remove the Defender badge from any of its products which it sells anywhere within the European Union. It has also been ordered to pay a small sum to Jaguar Land Rover to cover legal costs and damages.

Despite the name, the BRP vehicle bears no resemblance to the Land Rover original. It looks like a beefed-up golf caddy and is lightweight and easy to modify to suit a range of purposes. It also has a large, open cargo area.

'Robustly' defending Land Rover

Keith Benjamin, the legal director for Jaguar Land Rover, said that the success of JLR was based upon its unique engineering attributes and design, which is why the company was committed to protecting its brand ‘robustly’ wherever it proved to be necessary around the world.

The ruling sets a precedent which will have to be considered by firms such as Ineos, which has previously been linked with the resurrection of the Defender on behalf of Land Rover. Since then, insiders have talked about the prospect of making a new off-road vehicle to capture the Defender’s essence rather than choosing to replicate it. Land Rover is understandably protective of the legacy of the Defender, however, given that its all-new model is set to make an appearance in 2018.

The new Land Rover Defender

Ralf Speth, the CEO of Jaguar Land Rover, announced in the autumn that the new Defender was already undergoing testing and said that he had already driven prototypes. He confirmed that the company had decided on its appearance, adding that it looks ‘fantastic’.

The new Land Rover Defender looks likely to be the firm’s most high-tech model ever and it will use the same aluminium architecture as the new Land Rover Discovery, Range Rover Sport and Range Rover. It could also be built at the same Solihull plant in the west Midlands, although the firm now also has aluminium capabilities in a range of locations.

Speth has confirmed that the new Defender will not be related to either the Evoque or Discovery Sport models, saying that it should be ‘fairly different’ compared with other models in terms of body componentry as the vehicle has to be extremely tough. Speth said that there was ‘no question’ that the new Defender would simply be an icon. He emphasised that the company is committed to delivering the Defender’s ‘authentic successor’, whilst offering different elements from those found on other aluminium cars.

Land Rover has been slow to talk about its new Defender project as it faces a substantial production outlay for a vehicle which is relatively low volume. The costs are associated with the need to offer superior off-roading abilities and reliability in order to meet the standards set by the model's predecessor.

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