Tata Harrier v. Toyota Harrier
The Toyota Harrier is a compact crossover SUV produced by Toyota Motor Corporation since 1997. Toyota Motor Corporation has recently launched the fourth generation of Harrier and it is expected to come to India. Toyota owns the ‘Harrier’ trademark in most countries except India. Meanwhile, Tata Harrier is also a compact crossover SUV produced by Tata Motors and it was launched in the Indian market in 2019. Tata Motors owns the ‘Harrier’ trademark in India. Now, Toyota will have to change the name of the Toyota Harrier SUV when they launch it in India or risk infringing Tata Motor’s trademark. Meanwhile, Tata will have to forego its ‘Harrier’ trademark when they export it to foreign markets.
This is interesting in two aspects. Toyota delayed in filing its trademark in India and at the same time Tata Motors, without a clearance opinion, went ahead with the ‘Harrier’ trademark in India. It could have been avoided if either of the parties had proactively taken measures to protect its trademarks. A clearance opinion would have avoided this fiasco by Tata Motors and a robust and proactive trademark filing mechanism would have helped Toyota Motor Corporation to continue using its ‘Harrier’ trademark.
A similar turn of events made Royal Enfield rename its ‘Thunderbird’ motorcycle as ‘Meteor’ as they did not own the ‘Thunderbird’ trademark in multiple jurisdictions.