GM slams Ford over potential trademark infringement

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Words: Matthew Hansen
26 Jul 2021

Ford’s bigwigs are in hot water at the moment with eternal rivals General Motors, over a case that the latter believes amounts to trademark infringement.

In April Ford confirmed its new hands-free autonomous driving system, BlueCruise. Over the weekend, GM confirmed it was filing a lawsuit against Ford due to the new nomenclature coming close to its own semi-autonomous service’s name — Super Cruise.

“GM’s Super Cruise hands-free driver assistance technology was announced in 2012 and has been used commercially in-market since 2017,” said GM in a statement issued to press.

“Our majority-owned self-driving subsidiary Cruise has been in business since 2013. While GM had hoped to resolve the trademark infringement matter with Ford amicably, we were left with no choice but to vigorously defend our brands and protect the equity our products and technology have earned over several years in the market.

"Ford knew exactly what it was doing. If Ford wanted to adopt a new, unique, brand, it easily could have done so without using the word ‘Cruise,’ as shown by Ford’s branding for the same automated driving technology in their luxury car models: Ford branded this same enhancement to its automated driving system in luxury models, such as the Lincoln, as the ‘ActiveGlide’ feature.”

GM packed a few other barbs into its release, adding that BlueCruise is ‘less advanced’ than Super Cruise and as such could tarnish the latter’s reputation. To be fair to GM, Super Cruise is often cited as one of the few autonomous systems that rivals Tesla’s Autopilot and Full Self Driving.

Outspoken Ford spokesperson Mike Levine disagreed with GM’s assessment. He claims that ‘cruise’ is a neutral term, intrinsically connected with decades of cars fitted with ‘cruise control’.

“We think GM Cruise’s claim is meritless and frivolous. Drivers for decades have understood what cruise control is, every automaker offers it, and ‘cruise’ is common shorthand for the capability,” said Levine.

“That’s why BlueCruise was chosen as the name for the Blue Oval’s next evolution of Ford’s Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control, which incorporates hands-free Blue Zones and other advanced cruise-control features.”

Levine also makes the point that GM doesn’t seem terribly concerned about other brands with ‘cruise’ in their self-driving naming conventions — using Robocruise of RoboCars, Smart Cruise Control of Hyundai, and Active Cruise Control of BMW as examples.

GM aims to fit its latest version of Super Cruise to 22 different vehicles by the end of 2023. Ford’s BlueCruise, meanwhile, will soon appear in the fully electric Mustang Mach-E and F-150 as an over-the-air update.

 

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