Trademark Dispute Between GM, DaimlerChrysler Over Hummer Grille Heads to Court

ALEXANDRA R. MOSES an associated Press Writer repoted that the dispute between General Motors Corp. and DaimlerChrysler AG [NYSE:DAJ - news] over a grille design for the Hummer H2 heads to court next week.

A preliminary injunction hearing is scheduled to begin Monday in U.S. District Court in South Bend, Ind., and is expected to take about a week.

DaimlerChrysler claims that the H2's grille infringes on the trademark of the 50-year-old Jeep design. GM, which acquired the brand name Hummer from South Bend-based AM General in December 1999, contends AM General received a trademark for the grille in 1996.

The automakers sued one another in February 2001, each claiming the seven-slot grille design is rightfully theirs. DaimlerChrysler has asked a federal judge to halt production of GM's new Hummer H2 until a court decides the trademark dispute.

GM spokesman Alan Adler said Wednesday that the issue is less about the trademark than it is about competition.

``This is about trying to disrupt the launch of the H2,'' Adler said. ``This all became an important issue for Chrysler after GM purchased the rights to the Hummer name.''

Ann Smith, DaimlerChrysler spokeswoman, said the automaker expressed concerns about the trademark in December 1999.

``This is not some sort of last minute thing to disrupt their plans,'' Smith said. ``It is specific to the grille.

``We've done surveys that show over two-thirds of Jeep owners see the Hummer grille and associate it with being a Jeep,'' she said.

Smith said a request to halt production was not unusual because the production of the H2 is scheduled to start prior to the trial, which likely would begin later this year.

The Hummer line is a consumer version of the Humvee all-terrain military vehicle produced by AM General. The Hummer H2, a smaller version of the Hummer, is scheduled to go on sale in July at a base price of about $50,000.

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