In an ongoing battle of torts, General Motors has won yet another round in a heavyweight tussle with title rival DaimlerChrysler. Last week a U.S. appeals court put DC down for the count when it upheld an earlier lower court ruling that the 7-bar grille design of the General's hefty Hummer H2 sport-utility didn't run afoul of DaimlerChrysler's trademark Jeep grille.
DaimlerChrysler initially sought an injunction a year ago - just before the Hummer made its market debut - in an attempt to force its corporate rival to revise the H2's grille layout. DC's argument was that the seven vertical bars on the Jeep's front end, a traditional arrangement that dates back to the Jeeps' World War Two origins, constituted a "brand image" and wanted the General to beat a hasty retreat from the Hummer's similar treatment.
But the three judge Court of Appeals panel put its fire power behind GM, ruling that it agreed with the earlier ruling which found that DC's claim "showed virtually no chance of success on the merits." A DaimlerChrysler spokesperson indicated the company was unhappy with the decision and intended to review its options.
When Chrysler filed its first injunction against the H2, the General counter attacked with its own suit, charging that its rival had waived whatever claims it had on the distinctive grille by remaining silent after the original H1 Hummer hit the streets in 1991.
Though the H2 model doesn't fight directly with any current Jeep products, an anticipated H3 version with an expected $45,000 to $50,000 sticker could be seen as an invader on Jeep's soil. General Motors is projecting annual sales of about 40,000 Hummer H2s and around 1,000 H1 units.