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GM sues Ford claiming trademark infringement over hands-free technology's name

Jamie L. LaReau, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Automotive News

General Motors said Saturday that it has sued Ford Motor Co. over the name of Ford's new hands-free driving technology: BlueCruise.

In April, Ford introduced its BlueCruise hands-free highway driving system. Ford said at that time that BlueCruise will hit the road in a few months as over-the-air downloads install the system in thousands of already-sold 2021 F-150 pickups and Mustang Mach-E electric SUVs.

Ford said a $600 subscription fee will get owners of vehicles already equipped with BlueCruise's hardware an update that allows hands-free driving on 100,000 miles of divided highways in the U.S. and Canada. Ford expects more than 100,000 vehicles with BlueCruise should be on the road by the end of the year.

The problem is that GM believes the name sounds an awful lot like its hands-free driving technology called Super Cruise, which debuted in 2017.

Also, GM has its automated driving subsidiary Cruise, based in California, developing self-driving cars.

Over the past few weeks the automakers have been having "good-faith conversations" over Ford's use of the BlueCruise moniker, said a source familiar with the talks who declined to be named because he was not authorized to share that information with the news media. As part of those mediated conversations, there was an expiration date upon which either company could file a lawsuit and that date was 12:01 a.m. on July 24.

 

GM filed the trademark infringement lawsuit against Ford in U.S. District Court in northern California. The person said it was a last resort; GM was hoping to reach an agreement with Ford.

The Free Press obtained a copy of the lawsuit shortly after GM said it was filed, and in a statement following the filing, GM said: "GM's Super Cruise hands-free driver assistance technology was announced in 2012 and has been used commercially in-market since 2017. 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. As this is a matter of pending litigation, we have no further comments at this time."

In the lawsuit, GM said, "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 is seeking monetary damages and that Ford be ordered to stop using the name.

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