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Ineos Automotive Can’t Build a Defender Knockoff

Jaguar Land Rover looking to trademark its off-roader's shape

Earlier this week, we reported that a British billionaire businessman planned to move forward with development of a bare-bones off-road SUV that would be the “spiritual successor” to the now-canceled Land Rover Defender. Jim Ratcliffe, the CEO of chemical giant Ineos, plans to spend more than $800 million bringing this vehicle to production, creating an “uncompromising” SUV that offers the rugged utility of the Defender but with better reliability and build quality. But not everyone is on board with this plan.

The Financial Times reports that Jaguar Land Rover is working to make sure Ineos Automotive can’t build an SUV that’s too much like the Defender. That includes filing five trademark applications in the last year that would protect the shape of its iconic SUV. Ineos has reportedly opposed all of them. Previously, Ineos had tried to buy the rights to the Defender from JLR, but that deal quickly fell through.

“Defender will always be instantly recognizable as a Land Rover the world over. The Defender remains a key part of our current future product strategy,” said JLR in a statement. “We will monitor closely any actions in relation to our proprietary rights in Defender and will comment when appropriate.”

But Ratcliffe remains undeterred. By the end of the year, he plans to have 200 engineers working for Ineos Automotive, and once production starts, he thinks the whole project can be profitable within three years. At the moment, that means selling about 25,000 vehicles a year for the equivalent of $47,000 (£35,000) each. “You don’t spend £600 million ($811 million) on a nostalgic dalliance,” he said.

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