January 21, 2021
As recently reported by Car and Driver, Jaguar Land Rover (“JLR”) has filed a series of lawsuits against Volkswagen Group seeking to enjoin its sale of new VW, Audi, and Porsche SUVs in the United States. After years of unsuccessful negotiations, JLR launched four U.S. lawsuits in two states and an unfair trade complaint against the entire VW Group. While the dispute originated over the Bentley Bentayga’s off-road mode, it has since expanded to target all of VW Group's alleged infringements of JLR’s Terrain Response patent.
JLR’s Terrain Response system was introduced on the 2005 LR3 and offered a set of electronic controls and customizations for the vehicle. The five settings “optimized the ABS, throttle and transmission tuning, differential locks and air suspension for a variety of surfaces, indicated by icons on the center console (general, grass/gravel/snow, mud and ruts, sand, and rock crawl).” The Bentayga’s addition of an All-Terrain Specification, which provides four off-road modes, acted as the point of contention, with JLR claiming that the Bentayga driving-mode switch infringed upon JLR’s Terrain Response patent.
JLR sent letters to the manufacturers claiming that the Porsche Cayenne, Lamborghini Urus, Audi Q5, Q7, and e-tron all infringe JLR’s patent. In the most recent lawsuits, JLR is looking to recoup years of back-royalties and damages in addition to halting new VW Group cars from capitalizing on its patented technology.
In a hearing before the patent board, JLR submitted that “People are out in the world right now deciding, am I going to buy a Bentayga or a Range Rover? […] Range Rover is the well-known leader of Terrain Response. It’s brand-defining technology, Your Honor, that Bentley has put in their vehicle.”
Authors: Jaclyn Tilak and Shadi Varkiani