Could Koda Return to America? Automaker Trademarks Superb, Octavia, Yeti Names in U.S.
America — would you buy a modern Škoda?
According to AutoGuide, Škoda submitted four separate trademark applications for “Skoda Superb”, “Superb”, “Octavia”, and “Yeti” with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on May 24 and May 25, 2016. USPTO has yet to publish them for opposition.
While this is nothing new for Škoda (the company has continually filed trademarks in America since the 1920s), it’s worth noting what the company applied to trademark compared to what it usually trademarks.
Škoda hasn’t sold a car in the United States since the early 1960s, when the then-government controlled automaker shipped its Felicia across the Atlantic for American consumption. The front-engined Felicia was a sales flop, and Škoda hasn’t been back to the U.S. market since.
From the 1920s to now, Škoda has continually protected at least one piece of intellectual property in the United States by way of trademark. In 1925, it was the Škoda logo. In the ’50s, Škoda filed to protect its name.
Yet, even though Škoda sold the Felicia in the United States, these latest filings mark the first time Škoda has filed to protect model names in America.
Aside from current names, automakers routinely file trademark applications as a way to protect names of historical products. One only needs to Google “ Barracuda” to understand an automaker’s trademark love affair does not necessarily foretell an imminent future product.
But sometimes it does.
General Motors, for instance, recently filed a trademark application for the ZR1 moniker, which the automotive press posits will be a future high-po ‘Vette. (Whether or not GM affixes the ZR1 badge to a mid-engined Corvette is another topic entirely.)
Back to Škoda, the request for trademark comes at a very tumultuous time for its parent company Volkswagen.
The Volkswagen passenger car brand has struggled for years in the United States, and that was before its recent diesel emissions scandal.
Could Volkswagen leave the U.S. market and be replaced with Škoda-badged models instead?
Could the Škoda brand be used as a way to bolster offerings from current Volkswagen dealers?
Could Škoda’s filing be a simple protection mechanism for possible future plans?
Nobody knows at this point.
But, I will say this: I’d have a Škoda in a heartbeat. Ever since watching Octavia’s get trounced in WRC year after year, Škoda has always occupied a spot in my heart for Europe’s underdog automaker.
And that’s more than I can say for Volkswagen.
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