India's Mahindra and Mahindra is seeking an injunction against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to stop FCA from proceeding with a patent violation complaint aimed at stopping Mahindra from exporting a Jeep-like vehicle to the U.S.
Fiat Chrysler filed a trade complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission on Aug. 1 seeking to prevent Mahindra from importing the Roxor in to the U.S., an off-road vehicle that looks like the Jeep.
According to the complaint, certain design features of the Roxor infringed the intellectual property rights of FCA's Jeep design.
The complaint was "without merit," Mahindra said in a statement on Wednesday.
The company and its Mahindra Automotive North America unit have filed a public interest statement with the trade commission and have begun proceedings in a Michigan court to enforce a design agreement that it executed with Fiat in 2009.
"We are asking the court to block Fiat from participating in the ITC [International Trade Commission] claim -- an injunction -- because of the fact that they agreed in 2009 to never bring such claims if we use a grille that they approved. The Roxor uses that grille," Mahindra said.
"We are also arguing that Fiat is using the ITC case to harm our Roxor business by creating negative publicity, damaging our reputation and our stature in the marketplace," it said in the statement.
FCA has not claimed damages against Mahindra but has sought to permanently stop Mahindra from importing any components into the U.S. that infringe upon its intellectual property rights, Mahindra said.
FCA has said that Roxor imports threaten it with substantial injury because the SUVs are underselling Jeeps. Mahindra capitalizes on the cost advantages of manufacturing their products in India and then importing knocked-down kits to the U.S., where they are assembled in the Detroit area.
Mahinda said it rejects the notion that the Roxor is an imported low quality "knock-off" kit car. It said the SUV does not compete with FCA vehicles. The Roxor is manufactured and assembled in Auburn Hills in the first automaker plant to be built in Michigan in the last 25 years, the company said.
Mumbai-based Mahindra, which claims to be India’s largest SUV manufacturer, opened a North American headquarters in Auburn Hills last year.