Jaguar Land Rover Ltd. has lost a bid to hang a $130 million verdict on Bombardier Recreational Products Inc. (BRP) in a trademark jury trial.
Jaguar was seeking all of the profits from a BRP off-road vehicle called the Can-Am Defender, contending that BRP was infringing Jaguar’s mark on its Defender SUV. Jaguar called Defender “the heart and soul of the Land Rover brand,” though the company has not marketed the vehicle to U.S. consumers since 1998.
A federal court jury in Detroit apparently concluded that there was no likelihood of consumer confusion. “That was the fundamental dispute in the case,” said Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr partner Louis Tompros, who led BRP’s trial team.
“We are pleased that the jury recognized the Can-Am Defender as a unique and distinctive product,” Martin Langelier, BRP’s general counsel, said in a written statement.
The verdict was returned Friday in U.S. District Judge Gershwin Drain’s courtroom.
BRP was spun out from Bombardier Inc. in the early 2000s. It launched the Can-Am Defender, a side-by-side offroad vehicle, in 2015. Tompros said his team introduced survey evidence showing that the two vehicles served different industries and markets across different eras.
Jaguar hadn’t revealed that it would seek all of BRP’s profits on the Can-Am Defender until the eve of trial, Tompros said. “It’s been a very successful product” for BRP, he added.
BRP had also asked the jury to find that Jaguar abandoned the Defender mark and made false statements when renewing its U.S. trademark registration. Jaguar argued that after 1998 it continued selling new Defenders to the military; manufacturing Defender parts, accessories and merchandise for sale in the U.S.; and selling and servicing pre-owned Defender vehicles.
The jury ruled for Jaguar on both those questions.
“I’m absolutely fine with them hanging onto their registration as long as we got what we want”—the finding of non-infringement, Tompros said. Assisting him at trial were Wilmer associate Colleen McCullough; Dean Amburn and Lisa Asmar of Giroux Amburn; and Yves St. Arnaud of BRP.
Jaguar Land Rover, which had won a similar case against BRP in the European Union two years ago, was represented by Brooks Kushman.