6 August 2020TrademarksRory O'Neill

Jaguar Land Rover fails in Defender shape trademark appeal

The English High Court has blocked  Jaguar Land Rover from registering the shape of its Defender 4x4 as a trademark, clearing the way for chemicals company  Ineos to launch its own competing vehicle.

In a  ruling issued Monday, August 3, High Court judge Melissa Clarke affirmed the decision of the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) to refuse registration for two Jaguar shape marks.

The trademark applications were opposed by an affiliate of Ineos, owned by UK billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, which is looking to manufacture its own 4x4 vehicle, the Grenadier.

Jaguar appealed to the High Court, which this week held that the shape of the Defender did not qualify for trademark protection.

Clarke ruled that the shape of the Defender is not distinctive enough to act as a trademark and indicate Jaguar as the company behind the vehicle.

In her decision, Clarke referenced other cases in which trademark protection was denied for the shape of the London taxi and the Kit-Kat chocolate bar.

The Court of Justice of the European Union has also ruled that the shape of the Rubik’s Cube is not a trademark.

“Shape marks are notoriously difficult to register,” said Dennis Lee, partner at  BDB Pitmans.

“This has not deterred major brand owners from pursuing these non-traditional trademark rights in order to strengthen their protection, but ultimately they have at their disposal other forms of IP rights to protect an overall shape, be it iconic vehicles, chocolate bars or puzzle toys,” Lee added.

Jaguar argued that the IPO hearing officer had  “prejudged” the issue of whether the Defender shape was distinctive or not, and approached survey evidence on the issue with prejudice.

But Clarke rejected this, writing: “Rather it seems to me it shows the hearing officer carefully and fairly assessed the survey evidence in a way which discloses no error of principle.”

Ineos plans to develop the Grenadier in partnership with BMW. The company was at the heart of a public controversy last month when it confirmed it was considering manufacturing the vehicle in France, despite commitments to build it in Wales.

Did you enjoy reading this story?  Sign up to our free daily newsletters and get stories like this sent straight to your inbox.

Already registered?

Login to your account

To request a FREE 2-week trial subscription, please signup.
NOTE - this can take up to 48hrs to be approved.

Two Weeks Free Trial

For multi-user price options, or to check if your company has an existing subscription that we can add you to for FREE, please email Adrian Tapping at

More on this story

2 April 2019   Jaguar Land Rover has lost a trademark appeal against Yorkshire-based company Twisted Automotive.
20 November 2020   Jaguar Land Rover has sought to bar imports of Audi, Porsche, Lamborghini and Volkswagen vehicles into the US on the grounds that these models have infringed its patent.
30 September 2021   Jaguar Land Rover has settled its patent dispute with Volkswagen and its brands, resolving US litigation over technology used in luxury sport vehicles.