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Trademark Trouble for Chrysler

by Bill Cawthon on

Nitro-ScreenShot-Web
Chrysler Group has been rebuffed in its efforts to gain trademark protection for “Nitro” as a vehicle badge. The company yesterday filed an appeal with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office over its refusal to accept the application.

The trademark “Dodge Nitro” was registered to DaimlerChrysler on July 10, 2007 and was later transferred to Chrysler LLC but the record doesn’t show it being transferred again to Chrysler Group LLC. In any event, the registration was cancelled on February 14 of this year.

By the time Chrysler had already filed the application to register “Nitro” in its new class. The original documents were filed on July 10, 2013.

The USPTO sent notice of refusal to accept the mark in January of this year. In his letter of refusal, USPTO Attorney Paul Moreno wrote: “The specimen is not acceptable because it does not show the applied-for mark in use in commerce. Specifically, the specimen is not acceptable as evidence of actual use in commerce because it does not show the mark on actual goods or packaging, or displays associated with the actual goods at their point of sale. Applicant has submitted a screen shot of the of a vehicle badge consisting of the word NITRO, however this is unacceptable because the actual good submitted is the word NITRO. Nothing in the submitted specimens would inform consumers that NITRO was a trademark for a provider of “vehicles badges” in general.”

Moreno did note that a screen capture of the badge showing use (which is required for registering a trademark) would be an acceptable specimen, so that’s what Chrysler sent with their appeal.

And you thought the line at the DMV was long.

Another interesting tidbit showed up during our research: Chrysler Group LLC has applied to register the trademark “Chrysler 700C” for vehicles, etc. The original filing was made in January 2012. As mentioned above, a trademark can’t be registered until there is proof of actual use in commerce. A fourth extension to file a Statement of Use was granted in May.

There was a radically styled minivan with that name that was presented with little fanfare at the 2012 North American International Auto Show. (see Allpar’s coverage here). One wonders if the new minivan scheduled for 2016 will come with a new name more aligned with Chrysler’s numerical nomenclature.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for just-auto.com, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.


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