Fred "Jeep" Molnar is willing to settle his dispute with Chrysler on one condition: that the company give him a Jeep in exchange for him giving up business related to the name "Jeep's."
Chrysler Motors Corp. attorneys had threatened to take Molnar to court if he refused to stop using his lifelong nickname, Jeep, on his bar and lounge in Alpine.However, in a recent meeting between Molnar and Chrysler attorneys in Detroit, Chrysler agreed not to force Molnar to quit using "Jeep" as long as it was only in connection with Jeep's Bar and Lounge.
Molnar also would have been barred from using the Jeep Eagle Corp. logo, expanding the name into other lines of work or franchising his business.
After meeting with his lawyer Thursday, Molnar wrote a letter to Chrysler's lawyer outlining his proposed settlement.
"Having reviewed the matter with my attorneys, it is now clear to me that Chrysler has asked me to give up substantial business interests without any form of compensation whatsoever," Molnar wrote.
"While I would be willing to make those concessions in an attempt to resolve the matter peacefully, I honestly feel entitled to compensation in the form of a new Jeep. If Chrysler is willing to agree to pay such compensation we can resolve the matter once and for all. If not, I have decided to defend the `last frontier' of the independent American businessman."
Lloyd Northard, a Chrysler spokesman, said Thursday that the company would have no response to Molnar's proposal until its attorneys review his letter.
What if Chrysler doesn't agree to give him a Jeep?
"Let them sue me," Molnar said.
Chrysler officials have said they are only trying to protect their trademark, not shut down Molnar's business.
But Molnar said he is unhappy with the restrictions of always having to use "Bar and Lounge" with the word Jeep, because he stages other events such as concerts, and he sells fireworks for the Fourth of July celebration.
He acknowledges that Chrysler has trademark rights to the name, but still bristles that the company would restrict his use of it since he was known by friends as Jeep before the automaker.
The name "Jeep" was patented in 1950 and was first registered for the vehicle in 1940, Chrysler officials say.
"This is my last stand," Molnar said. "If nothing else, I owe it to my father, who gave me the name Jeep in 1937. I'm going to continue to run my business as I have for 15 years."