Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

Detroit — General Motors is suing its competitor Ford for violating a trademarked driver-assist technology that is used for hands-free features, according to court papers.

The carmaker is taking action to protect the Cruise and Super-Cruise brands after Ford in April renamed its Co-Pilot360 automated driving system as Blue Cruise, GM said in court documents filed on Friday. Talks to resolve the issue had been unsuccessful, the firm said.

The claim by GM is “meritless and frivolous”, Ford spokesperson Mike Levine said in an e-mailed statement. “Drivers for decades have understood what cruise control is, every carmaker offers it, and ‘cruise’ is common shorthand for the capability.”

In documents filed with the US district court northern district of California, a unit of Detroit-based GM said “Ford knew exactly what it was doing”.

“If Ford wanted to adopt a new, unique, brand, it easily could have done so without using the word ‘Cruise’,” GM said in the filing.

GM first introduced Super Cruise, which allows drivers to take their hands off the wheel for brief periods, on the Cadillac CT6 in 2017. Since then, the company has expanded the technology to allow cars to change lanes on their own, and plans to offer the feature on more models.

The feature shares a name with Cruise LLC, the self-driving car start-up that is majority-controlled by GM.

“While GM had hoped to resolve the trademark infringement matter with Ford amicably, we were left with no choice but to vigorously defend our brands,” GM said in an e-mailed statement.

Semi-autonomous features such as hands-free driving and crash-avoidance technology have become hotly contested battle grounds as carmakers seek to boost prices, best rivals with options that command a premium, and give drivers hi-tech bragging rights.

They are also seen as gateways to getting consumers comfortable with self-driving cars, a space where automotive and tech companies are spending billions in the hopes of unlocking profits from robotaxis and delivery services.

Ford unveiled plans last year to offer its Blue Cruise hands-free driving technology on its F-150 light truck, the top-selling vehicle in the US. It is also offering Blue Cruise as an over-the-air software update on its electric Mustang Mach-E. 

Bloomberg News. More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com

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