GM Sues Ford over BlueCruise Name For Hands-Free Driving Tech

·2 min read
Photo credit: Ford
Photo credit: Ford
  • General Motors filed a lawsuit Friday in a California federal court accusing Ford of trademark infringement and unfair competition.

  • GM says that the BlueCruise name that Ford chose for its hands-free driving technology is too similar to Super Cruise, GM’s driver-assistance system, and Cruise, GM’s autonomous vehicles division.

  • Ford says that “cruise” is a common automotive term and that “it’s like GM trying to own the term ‘hybrid,’” providing a list of other companies with products that feature the word.

UPDATE 8/16/21: On Friday, August 13, Ford said it intended to file a request with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to have GM’s "Cruise" and "Super Cruise" trademarks rescinded, according to the Detroit Free Press. Ford spokesperson Mike Levine said that the trademarks "should have never been registered in the first place" and that Ford made the request "so the industry as a whole can freely use the word 'cruise' to safely describe driver assist tech." The Detroit Free Press reports that in a statement GM reiterated that the Super Cruise name has existed since 2012 and that the system been available since 2017, and said once again that it is "committed to vigorously defending our brands and protecting the equity our products and technology have earned over several years in the market and that won’t change."

In April, Ford announced that its hands-free driving system would be dubbed “BlueCruise” and would become available starting with 2021 model year F-150 trucks and Mustang Mach E crossovers. But General Motors has taken exception to Ford’s name choice. GM, along with its autonomous-taxi subsidiary Cruise, filed a lawsuit in a federal court in California on Friday in an attempt to prevent Ford from using the BlueCruise moniker, according to a report from Reuters.

General Motors says the name infringes upon GM’s trademark for its own hands-free driving system, Super Cruise, as well as its trademark for Cruise, an autonomous vehicle subdivision. In the lawsuit, GM also accuses Ford of unfair competition, requesting that the court prevent Ford from using the BlueCruise name and for Ford to cover unspecified damages. GM said in a statement that the company “had hoped to resolve the trademark infringement matter with Ford amicably” but after failing to iron out the issue, GM had “no choice but to vigorously defend our brands and protect the equity our products and technology have earned over several years in the market.”

In a statement, Ford defended its name choice, calling the lawsuit "meritless and frivolous” and contending that “drivers for decades have understood what cruise control is, every automaker offers it, and 'cruise' is common shorthand for the capability.” Ford also provided a list of other technologies that use the word cruise, such as Hyundai’s Smart Cruise Control, contending that “GM has had zero issue with other 'cruise' names.” Ford compared this situation to GM trying to assert trademark ownership on a term such as hybrid or turbo.

The lawsuit itself, as cited in Reuters, alleges malicious intent on Ford’s behalf, with GM arguing that "Ford knew what it was doing" and that "Ford's decision to rebrand by using a core mark used by GM and Cruise will inevitably cause confusion.” GM originally announced the Super Cruise name back in 2012, with the technology first appearing in GM vehicles in 2017. The Cruise subsidiary has existed since 2013, with GM acquiring the self-driving brand in 2016.

This story was originally published July 6, 2021.

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