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3/3/2003
 

GM Wins Summary Judgment Against Daimler/Chrysler in Hummer Trademark Case

A federal district court judge has granted General Motors' motion for summary judgment on all of DaimlerChrysler's claims that the grille on GM's H2 Hummer SUV infringes DaimlerChrysler's alleged trademark rights in a "family" of Jeep grilles.  The court found that DaimlerChrysler has no right to challenge GM's use of the Hummer grille on a commercial vehicle like the H2 by virtue of a 1983 agreement, in which DaimlerChrysler's predecessor, American Motors, transferred all intellectual property rights in the Hummer design to GM's predecessor in interest.   

The ruling is the third straight victory for GM in the case.  In February of 2002, the district court denied DaimlerChrysler's motion for a preliminary injunction after a two-week hearing.  In November of 2002, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit unanimously affirmed that ruling and adopted the district court's 76-page opinion as its own.

General Motors was represented by John T. Hickey, Jr. and Paul R. Garcia of the Chicago office and Christopher Landau of the Washington, D.C. office of Kirkland & Ellis.

The dispute centered on the design of the front grille of GM's H2 Hummer.  DaimlerChrysler had argued that GM was violating its alleged trademark rights in various Jeep grilles, including the Jeep Wrangler.  General Motors argued that DaimlerChrysler assigned all intellectual property rights in the Hummer design, including the grille, in a 1983 agreement between the companies (through their predecessors) and that DaimlerChrysler could not now challenge GM's use of the Hummer grille on any vehicle in any market.

In his order, Chief Judge Robert Miller of the United States District Court of Northern Indiana held that General Motors owns all property rights in the Hummer grille: "DaimlerChrysler cannot assert any intellectual property rights in the Hummer because it transferred them all in 1983..[T]he contracts are unambiguous. General Motors is entitled to judgment on the law."

Kirkland & Ellis is a 900-attorney law firm representing global clients in complex corporate and tax, workout, insolvency and bankruptcy, litigation, dispute resolution and arbitration, and intellectual property and technology matters.  The Firm has offices in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, London, San Francisco and Washington.

Case: AM General Corporation and General Motors Corporation v. Daimler/Chrysler Corporation (No. 3:01-CV-134 RM) (Order entered on February 25, 2003)
United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana - South Bend Division.

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