Two titans of the American automotive marketplace are locking horns in excess of branding for automated driving systems, underscoring the significance of brand clearance just before marketing and selling a new product or technological innovation. GM and its subsidiaries Cruise LLC and GM Cruise Holdings LLC filed match last 7 days in the Northern District of California alleging federal trademark infringement, prevalent legislation trademark infringement, and point out and federal unfair competition claims about Ford’s use of the title BlueCruise.1
GM obtained self- and automatic-driving technological know-how organization Cruise LLC in 2016. GM and its subsidiaries own and use a variety of marks with a “cruise” term element for products and providers relating to automatic driving systems. The marks include CRUISE, Tremendous CRUISE, CRUISE ORIGIN, and a wide variety of other CRUISE-containing monikers, with most currently being filed or registered in 2020. The earliest application for Tremendous CRUISE was submitted in 2016, and the earliest registration was issued in 2018.
Quite a few years afterwards, in April 2021, Ford declared the impending launch of its BlueCruise technological know-how, an evolution of its Co-Pilot360 technologies. The new engineering is thought of to be an SAE Stage 2 driver-guide technologies related to Tesla Autopilot.2 Even so, Ford seems to have struggled to detect a solid manufacturer for this know-how. Though the BlueCruise engineering has new features and characteristics, it is very similar to Ford’s “Active Travel Support,” unveiled in 2020 – not to be perplexed with Jeep’s “Active Driving Assist” or BMW’s “Active Driving Assistant.” No pending apps or registered emblems for BlueCruise have been filed with the USPTO.
GM alleges that it has created a CRUISE brand name related with basic safety and trustworthiness in the automatic vehicle marketplace in excess of the training course of a number of many years and has devoted “many thousands and thousands of dollars” developing goodwill.3 It also alleges that Ford chose the BlueCruise manufacturer in “a brazen endeavor to trade on [Cruise’s] goodwill.”4 GM even took a swing at the know-how, alleging Ford’s item is “far significantly less advanced” and will probably guide to “an inferior customer knowledge, with the likely for consolation and safety troubles.”5
Of training course, this is only a single aspect of the tale, and the litigation is in its infancy. But regardless of the outcome, this scenario serves as a warning for all firms who are anxious to establish a brand in new technological know-how fields. Avoid lawsuits and legal headaches by continuously establishing your brand, clearing any achievable brand households, and implementing for federal registration ahead of you release your technology. And remember, whilst names describing your product these types of as “Active Drive Assist” might assist consumers have an understanding of the item, these generic or descriptive taglines are weak brands under U.S. trademark regulation. Selecting an arbitrary or fanciful name and putting in the time for it to be regarded by consumers often pays extensive-term dividends.
1. Cruise LLC, GM Cruise Holdings LLC, and Standard Motors LLC v. Ford Motor Firm, Northern District of California, Compl. filed July 23, 2021, Circumstance No. 3:21-CV-05685.
2. Ford Push Launch, Ford’s ‘Mother of All Street Trips’ Assessments BlueCruise Arms-Free of charge Driving Ahead of Over-The-Air Thrust to F-150, Mustang Mach-E (April 14, 2021), https://ford.to/3fav11I, very last visited July 29, 2021.
3. Compl., ¶ 23.
4. Id., ¶ 59.
5. Id., ¶ 50.