Jeep Customizer, Fiat Chrysler Fight to Draw Over ‘Moab'

Bloomberg BNA’s Patent Trademark & Copyright Law Daily™is the IP industry’s premier news service, offering objective, timely,and reliable daily news coverage and commentary from leading IP law...

By Anandashankar Mazumdar

Oct. 11 — Fiat Chrysler's use of the name “Moab” for a Jeep Wrangler trim package is unlikely to create confusion with an Arizona-based customizer's use of the name “Moab,” the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona ruled Oct. 6 ( Moab Indus., LLC v. FCA US, LLC , 2016 BL 336890, D. Ariz., No. 3:12-cv-8247-HRH, 10/6/16 ).

The court also said that the customizer's “upfitting” of Wranglers did not cause any harm to Fiat Chrysler's Jeep and Wrangler trademarks.

Neither company is located in Moab, Utah, which is known for its annual Moab Jeep Safari off-road vehicle event.

Moab Industries LLC of Prescott, Ariz., customizes and resells vehicles, mostly Jeep Wranglers. The company obtained a U.S. trademark registration in 2011 for “Moab Industries.”

A year later, FCA US LLC, which was formerly the Chrysler Group LLC and holds numerous trademark registrations related to its Jeep and Jeep Wrangler vehicles, tried to register “Moab” for a Wrangler trim package. But the Patent and Trademark Office found a conflict with Moab Industries' trademark.

In 2013, Fiat Chrysler began selling its Jeep Wrangler Moab model. According to the court, FCA made the choice because of the company's “long-standing participation in off-road jamborees at Moab, Utah.”

Moab Industries sued Fiat Chrysler, alleging trademark infringement and other claims. Fiat Chrysler countersued, adding a claim that Moab's Jeep customization violated FCA's trademark rights.

The PTO suspended consideration of FCA's registration while the two companies faced off in court. Now, the court said, the agency's initial rejection of the application “remains subject to further review.”

Niro Law Ltd. and Jaburg & Wilk P.C. represented Moab Industries. Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP and Snell & Wilmer LLP represented Fiat Chrysler.

To contact the reporter on this story: Anandashankar Mazumdar in Washington at amazumdar@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mike Wilczek at mwilczek@bna.com

For More Information

Text available at http://src.bna.com/jhR.

Copyright © 2016 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.