General Motors at odds with Ford over ‘Cruise’ use

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Car manufacturers are all working on increasingly sophisticated driver assistance systems. What once started as (adaptive) cruise control and (active) lane assist is slowly but surely becoming completely independent driving. In terms of naming, Tesla chose the Auto Pilot, a name that has been used in aviation for decades. General Motors opted for a variant of the cruise control, namely Super Cruise. Ford does too, and calls its self-driving system BlueCruise. However, that name has gone wrong with GM, with the result that that manufacturer has now taken competitor Ford to court.

BlueCruise vs SuperCruise

General Motors claims that Ford’s BlueCruise name is too similar to the Super Cruise brand name, already registered in 2017, by subsidiary Cruise. That company has been working for General Motors for several years on the development of a system for autonomous driving vehicles. Ford introduced BlueCruise ‘only’ at the beginning of this year.

Before a lawsuit filed last week, Ford and GM discussed the conflict several times in the hopes that going to court would not be necessary. However, those talks were unsuccessful. “As a result, we were left with no alternative but to vigorously defend our brands and protect the assets our products and technology have earned over several years in the market,” said a GM spokesperson.

More autonomous systems with ‘Cruise’ in them

It is of course striking that GM does blame Ford that the company uses ‘Cruise’ in the name for the system for autonomous driving. Apart from the fact that the word ‘cruise’ quickly comes to mind when coming up with names for these systems, there are even more car manufacturers who have given their systems a similar name. Hyundai’s Smart Cruise Control and BMW’s Active Cruise Control, just to name two.

That is also one of the arguments that Ford now makes. ‘Cruise’ is too general a term to claim exclusivity. It is now up to the American court to rule on that. “Every automaker offers it, and ‘cruise’ is a common abbreviation for that feature. That’s why BlueCruise was chosen as the name for Blue Oval’s next evolution of Ford’s Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control,” said a Ford spokesperson.

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