Land Rover was one of the first carmakers to break into the highly profitable Premium SUV market, simplifying technology for drivers who drive off the beaten track but are inexperienced. But it is increasingly being challenged in this segment by its foreign rivals.
Against this backdrop, Jaguar Land Rover has asked a U.S. trade agency to block imports of Porsche, Lamborghini, Audi and Volkswagen brands (all from the Volkswagen Group), accusing them of using its patented “Terrain Response” system without authorization.
The Terrain Response system is a key feature of the F-Pace and Discovery according to JLR.
Jaguar Land Rover, owned by India’s Tata Motors, said in a complaint to the U.S. International Trade Commission that the technology built into the Terrain Response system provides driving assistance over a “wide range of surfaces” and is a key feature of JLR’s F-Pace and Land Rover Discovery.
Land Rover’s Terrain Response function uses a single button to adjust all subsystems to allow the vehicle to adapt to off-road driving. With a single actuation of the system, the vehicle automatically adjusts the engine, brakes, transmission and other mechanisms to optimize vehicle performance.
However, the manufacturer believes that the ability to transform the average driver into an off-road specialist is a key feature of Land Rover’s success as a premium brand.
JLR at war with “counterfeit”.
JLR seeks to protect itself and its U.S. operations from companies that have introduced counterfeit products into the U.S. market that incorporate, without any license from JLR, technology developed by JLR and protected by its patent, said Land Rover’s attorney Matthew Moore of Latham & Watkins .
JLR Seeks to Push the Competition
Super Premium car manufacturers began entering the SUV market about five years ago. The Land Rover division of JLR, originally known for its rugged off-road vehicles, is now looking to keep the competition at bay as other automakers enter the segment, including Volkswagen’s top-of-the-line Bentayga from Bentley and Maserati’s Levante.
Porsche, Lamborghini, Audi and Volkswagen in Land Rover’s sights
Land Rover now wants to block imports of the Porsche Cayenne, Lamborghini’s Urus, the Audi Q8, Q7, Q5, A6 Allroad and e-tron and the VW Tiguan.
At the same time, Rover claims that there are many other compact midsize premium SUVs that could meet consumer demand if these models are banned in the United States.
Bentley continued by Land Rover in 2018 after the launch of the Bentayga
In 2018, Land Rover sued Bentley after the introduction of the Bentayga,- which can cost more than $200,000. According to Land Rover, the model offers a driving dynamics system that mimics Terrain Response.
Bentley sought to invalidate Land Rover’s patents both in the District Court and before the US Patent and Trademark Office’s Examination Committee, without success. However, a trial is scheduled for February.
The US International Trade Commission with power to block imports
The International Trade Commission is an independent, quasi-judicial U.S. agency that investigates complaints of unfair trade practices, such as patent infringement. It cannot award damages, but has the power to prevent imports of products that violate the rights of owners of patents and trade secrets. It can operate faster than the federal district courts, with a typical investigation being completed within 15 to 18 months.
Jaguar sues VW over patents
But Jaguar also filed patent lawsuits this week against VW subsidiaries in federal courts in Delaware and New Jersey, seeking cash compensation for the use of the technology. These cases will likely be put on hold once the trade commission opens its investigation.
Our opinion, by leblogauto.com
JLR’s strategy could be twofold. Firstly: to curb competition from Volkswagen Group brands … but also to reduce the profits made by the German manufacturer on these highly profitable models, which largely contribute to financing its investments in electric vehicle technology, autonomous driving and other innovations. And thus curb its investments and reduce its “nuisance potential”.