GM, Cruise demand Ford drop 'BlueCruise' name for hands-free driving

·2 min read
Logo of General Motors atop the company headquarters

  By Joseph White 

  DETROIT, July 23 (Reuters) - General Motors Co and its Cruise robo-taxi subsidiary said early Saturday they have asked a U.S. federal court to stop Ford Motor Co from using the name "BlueCruise" to market its hands-free driving technology. 

  In a statement and documents released shortly after midnight Detroit time, GM said Ford's use of the BlueCruise name infringed on GM's Super Cruise and other GM trademarks for automated driving, such as Hyper Cruise, as well as Cruise's trademarks. 

  "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 and protect the equity our products and technology have earned over several years in the market," GM said in its statement. 

  Ford, in a statement, called GM and Cruise's claim "meritless and frivolous." 

  "Drivers for decades have understood what cruise control is, every automaker offers it, and 'cruise' is common shorthand for the capability," it said. 

  Ford noted that GM has not taken action against other companies that use the word "cruise" in marketing names used to describe automated driving systems. 

  Automakers are racing to deploy technology to enable drivers to take their hands off the steering wheel in traffic jams or on highways. The so-called Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, such as Tesla Inc's semi-automated Autopilot technology, are not supposed to allow drivers to fully disengage from driving for extended periods. 

  Automakers have used the word "cruise" for decades to describe cruise control systems which allow drivers to set a speed the car will maintain, usually in highway driving. 

  GM's complaint argues that "automated driving is not cruise control." 

  GM announced in 2012 it would use the name Super Cruise for its hands-free driver assistance technology. It has been marketing the technology using that name since 2017. 

  GM's majority-owned Cruise self-driving vehicle unit has been operating since 2013. 

  Ford announced it would use the name BlueCruise https://www.reuters.com/business/autos-transportation/ford-offer-hands-free-driving-some-car-truck-models-later-this-year-2021-04-14 for its hands-free driving technology in April this year. 

  In their complaint, GM's lawyers state the automaker engaged in "protracted discussions" with Ford before deciding to go to court. 

  GM contends Ford's BlueCruise system "is far less advanced than Cruise’s technology and thus likely to yield an inferior consumer experience, with the potential for comfort and safety issues" that could tarnish the Super Cruise brand. 

  (Reporting By Joe White; Editing by Himani Sarkar) 

(Adds Ford comment, details of GM's complaint.)

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