The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) will launch an investigation into an off-road utility vehicle produced by Mahindra & Mahindra, the ROXOR, following a complaint by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV that it infringed upon the intellectual property rights of its Jeep design, Reuters said on Tuesday.

Reuters reported an ITC statement said the regulator was launching a patent-related investigation into the ROXOR. The ITC said the complaint was related to the import and sale in the U.S. of certainmotorised vehicles and components that Fiat Chrysler had alleged infringed on its trademarks. The ITC said it would aim to complete the probe within 45 days.

The news agency reported the ITC has indicated it will begin an investigation of Fiat Chrysler’s complaint and it will also conduct a 100-day expedited consideration of the 2009 agreement and its effect on the investigation, said Rich Ansell, vice president of marketing, Mahindra Automotive North America.

Bloomberg reported last month that the Fiat Chrysler group filed the complaint on Aug. 1 at the ITC, claiming that the Mahindra Roxor infringes key characteristics of Jeep’s signature trade dress -- namely the “boxy body shape with flat-appearing vertical sides and rear body ending at about the same height as the hood”.

Mahindra said Fiat Chrysler’s complaint is without merit. It said that it and its North American unit had filed a public interest statement with the ITC and had begun proceedings in a Michigan court to enforce a design agreement that it had executed with Fiat Chrysler in 2009.

A Mahindra statement on its website says it filed the public interest statement with the ITC on August 22, 2018. "We also demonstrated that the ROXOR is a vehicle that was always intended only as an off-road vehicle, does not compete with Fiat vehicles, is manufactured and assembled in the first OEM plant to be built in Michigan, USA, in the last 25 years, was the result of more than three years of research and development, and categorically rejected the notion that the ROXOR was an imported low quality ‘knock-off’ kit car,” it said.

Mahindra was seeking an injunction against Fiat Chrysler from proceeding with the complaint, it added.

Reuters said Fiat Chrysler had not made a monetary claim in the complaint but was seeking to block Mahindra Automotive from importing any parts or components into the U.S. that infringe upon Fiat Chrysler’s intellectual property rights, it said.

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