General Motors and Ford may be cruising into a courtroom soon.
GM and its autonomous car subsidiary Cruise have jointly sued Ford over its use of the "BlueCruise" name for its upcoming electronic driver aid.
BlueCruise, which will first be activated in the Ford Mustang Mach-E and F-150 later this year, is similar to GM's existing Super Cruise system that offers hands-free lane-keeping and adaptive cruise control on pre-mapped roads. Both use facial recognition to ensure that the driver is keeping an eye on the road while the system is engaged. Cruise is separately developing fully autonomous driverless vehicles for a ride-hailing service.
The trademark infringement claim points out that Ford originally announced the feature under the Active Drive Assist name in 2020 as an enhancement of its CoPilot360 electronic driver aid package, but changed it to BlueCruise this April, allegedly to "distance itself from Co-Pilot out of concern that recent safety issues involving another user of the name ‘Pilot’ in its brand would taint Ford's reputation."
The "another user" reference is apparently in regard to Tesla's Autopilot, which has been involved in several high-profile incidents in recent years.
A Ford spokesman called GM's claim "meritless and frivolous."
"Drivers for decades have understood what cruise control is and "cruise" is common shorthand for the capability. Any number of companies use the word "cruise" to brand driver assist technology. That’s why BlueCruise was chosen," he said.
"Ford knew what it was doing," GM said in the lawsuit filed in a California U.S. District Court. "Ford's decision to rebrand by using a core mark used by GM and Cruise will inevitably cause confusion."
GM asserts that its trademarks cover the use of the Cruise name for "automated driving technology" and says that it engaged in unsuccessful negotiations with Ford prior to filing the suit.
Unlike GM, which uses Super Cruise branding across all of its brands, Ford's luxury brand, Lincoln, is marketing the BlueCruise technology under the ActiveGlide name.