Is Chevy Launching SS Sub-Brand?
Does Autoblog Know That Trademarks and Patents Are Two Different Things?

Ronnie Schreiber
by Ronnie Schreiber
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is chevy launching ss sub brand br does autoblog know that trademarks and patents

Last week General Motors filed an application with United States Patent & Trademark Office to register SS as a trademark ( search for 85597402 here). Though Chevrolet has used the SS designation since the early 1960s, first appearing on the ’61 Impala SS, it has apparently never before taken the steps to protect it as a trademark. Trademark registrations have to be for a specific use and in this case the use specified is “Motor land passenger vehicles, namely, automobiles.”

There’s been talk that GM will be reviving a storied nameplate for the civilian version of the RWD Caprice PPV cop cruiser, a name that will also grace Chevy’s forthcoming NASCAR “stock” cars. Some have suggested that the new model will be marketed simply as the Chevy SS. Chevrolet did use the SS name on a concept car for the 2003 show circuit. Using SS as a nameplate, though, might create confusion with how the SS brand has been applied to other Chevy models, and also how any SS would be distinguished from a supposed Impala SS model, seen testing in spy shots.

Actually, the trademark application cites the first use in commerce of the SS mark as March, 16, 2009, which happens to be when the revived Camaro, including its SS variant, went on sale. To me that means that Chevy will continue to use SS as a performance variant even if there is a specific SS model. More likely, though, I think that Chevy is just doing with the SS brand what other manufacturers have done with SVT and AMG nametags, creating a performance sub-brand. Perhaps they are following Chrysler’s example with the SRT brand, creating a SS halo vehicle (as the Viper is to be for SRT) that helps promote regular Chevy’s offered with the SS package.

Now that the factual reporting is out of the way, I have to say that Autoblog’s coverage of this topic is one example of how patents and trademarks are used as interchangable terms when they really aren’t. They repeatedly conflate patents and trademarks in ways that betray a near complete ignorance of the different kinds of intellectual property, what they cover or how rights are secured.

Turns out, though, that General Motors just got around to patenting the designator SS on April 13, 2012.

No, that’s not correct. It turns out, though, that GM filed an application to register a trademark for SS on April 13, 2012. Trademarks are for words and symbols. Patents are for inventions and processes. Other than both being forms of intellectual property and both being managed by the same government agency (though completely different departments of that agency), patents and trademarks have nothing to do with each other. Furthermore, the phrase “patenting” wouldn’t have been applicable even if it was a patent. The application is just the first step in getting either a patent or a trademark.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can dig deeper at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

Ronnie Schreiber
Ronnie Schreiber

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, the original 3D car site.

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  • Trucky McTruckface Trucky McTruckface on Apr 19, 2012

    Ford sold an "Escort SS" in 1981 and a preproduction "Mustang SS" with the new H.O. 302 was featured in an early '82 issue of Motor Trend. Both cars were ultimately sold as "GTs" for the '82 model year. I always wondered how Ford got away with that. Now I know the answer.

  • Namstrap Namstrap on Apr 19, 2012

    I remembering hearing the Jaguar link a long time ago. Swallow Sidecars was the company, and their first car was the Jaguar SS (for Swallow Sidecars). The guy that told me about it claimed he had me Bill Lyons.

  • Marty S Corey, thanks for your comment. Mercedes has many different models, and will survive. Jaguar is planning on only offering electric models and will be in trouble. They should continue their ICE models as long as possible, but have discontinued the F-Type already and will probably be discontinuing everything else. We purchased the current XF this year, which is a nice car, but would have been splendid if they had just continued the supercharged V-6 in it.By the way, I have really enjoyed your Continental and Eldorado series. Was just showing it to my barber, who owned several 1954-56 Eldorado convertibles.
  • Marques My father had one of these. A black 1984 Pulsar NX with a 5-speed stick and a grey interior. Dad always kept it in pristine shape-that black paint was shiny even in the middle of the night. I swear I could still smell the Rain Dance carnauba wax! The only issue that car ever had was that it was never driven enough-it would sit for 10 days at a time! The Hitachi carburetor on it(and other Nissans of the time) were known to be troublesome. It went to the boneyard at 72K miles when a hole got punched in the block. By that time the Pulsar had long ceased production.
  • VoGhost This is the only new vehicle I have the slightest interest in.
  • VoGhost I love it. Can't wait to get one. Finally, trucks are becoming actually capable, and it's great for America.
  • Peter Just waiting for Dr. Who to show up with his Tardis, and send these things back to the hellish dark dimension from which they came.