The A to Z of Trademarks

Last week Google revealed that it would now be operating under a newly established company called ‘Alphabet’. In his blog G is for Google Larry Page wrote that the name ‘Alphabet’ means "a collection of letters that represent language, one of humanity’s most important innovations, and is the core of how we index with Google search!"

Surely the founder of Google would understand the value of a name better than anyone? ‘Google’ has been adopted into the everyday language as a verb and has become a modern-day synonym of ‘search’.

And surely we can assume that before Larry Page and Sergey Brin settled on the name of their new parent company, they Googled it.

Well, had Page and Brin entered ‘Alphabet’ in their own search engine, they would have discovered the ‘Alphabet’ trademark belonged to BMW, the German car manufacturer. BMW’s Alphabet provides service packages to corporations with vehicle fleets.

Following the announced restructure of Google under the ‘Alphabet’ holding company, BMW’s crashed due to the huge amount of online traffic. Google’s ‘Alphabet’ is actually located at the domain, which has since been blocked in China despite extensive local coverage of the company’s restructuring.

Micaela Sandstede, a BMW spokeswoman in Munich, told the NY Times that “we are not planning to sell the domain” and that BMW is examining whether any trademark infringement has taken place. According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, a trademark infringement occurs if a different company’s use of the name creates confusion with consumers. Google is involved in the auto industry through their experimentation with self-driving cars and the creation of an Android operating system.

Google has declined to comment on the situation.

Don’t worry, we’re still getting used to the name too! - Larry Page

Article posted by Camille Whitehead