By on July 31, 2017

lynk-and-co-01-sedan

Ford Motor Company is finally challenging Geely Holding Group’s trademark application for the Lynk & Co automotive moniker. We’ve been waiting on this one for a while and are a little curious as to why it took Ford so long to realize the Geely-backed brand sounded so similar to Lincoln Motor Company.

While Chinese manufacturers enjoy a rich history of borrowing designs and names from competing automakers, the brunt of their more brazen attempts at thievery exist in the past — probably because they traditionally end up in court. Geely also has the benefit of plausible deniability since the Lynk name is supposed to hint at the vehicle’s unparalleled level of connectivity. It would be reasonable to assume this was a big coincidence.

Still, even if that is the case, nothing is going to halt the corporate litigation train now that it has left Ford Station.

Lynk & Co was granted one month extension by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to formally oppose the trademark and until November 15th to file its opposition.

“The Lincoln brand has a rich 100-year history and we intend to protect its reputation,” a Lincoln spokesman expressed to Automotive News in an email. “Lynk & CO is infringing on the Lincoln … trademark and we are taking legal actions to prevent them from using their infringing mark. Their name as it stands will confuse customers.”

Slotted between Geely’s namesake brand and Swedish-made Volvo, Lynk is slated to provide small, technology focused vehicles using the company’s shared Compact Modular Architecture. Starting with the 01 SUV, the Chinese automaker wants to sell digitally sharable vehicles using a direct-to-consumer sales model in Asia and Europe. A sedan — the expertly designated 03 — is expected to reach production sometime later.

With such creatively named vehicle models, it’s not impossible to think the Chinese brand might intentionally steal another company’s name. However, considering it is spelled so dissimilarly, it’s exceptionally difficult to assume this could have possibly been a malicious act. Either way, you can see why Ford might be concerned — they do sound alike and Geely hopes to get those cars into practically every market Lincoln already exists in. Ford has to give its lawyers something to do.

Lynk & Co hopes to migrate sales to North America, but has yet to devise a way around the United States’ dealer model. Brand head Alain Visser hinted that the vehicles might make their way to urban Volvo dealerships and would almost assuredly be serviced there if they were ever to go on sale within the Americas.

[Image: Lynk & Co]

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45 Comments on “Ford Challenges Lynk & Co for Sounding Too Much Like Lincoln...”


  • avatar
    Syke

    I can see what the “& Company” isn’t going to last too long.

  • avatar

    That’s the Power of & – The Fusion of Design & Technology!

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      When I click on your id, I get some sort of a used car website. The site FAQ includes a policy against self-promotion/advertising in the comments. If I could figure out the report function I’d do this more privately.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Lynk & Motor Co. LLC MT TM Esquire

    They just need to find a discount Matt McConaughey as spokesperson.

  • avatar
    carguy67

    “… While Chinese manufacturers enjoy a rich history of borrowing designs and names from competing automakers”

    Borrowing?! Have they ever returned any of the IP they’ve stolen?

  • avatar
    thelaine

    So much for my “Four D” car company idea.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Faraday Future should name their next car the Faraday Future Frod.

    It would be the first honest thing they’ve done, but then FoMoCo would stop them.

  • avatar
    b534202

    Mark Fields was too busy trying to keep his job to care about these guys.

  • avatar
    brn

    “It would be reasonable to assume this was a big coincidence.”

    Why would it be reasonable? You just stated that they have a history of stealing names. This one is fairly obvious.

    Ford is going to have a hard time suing in a country that doesn’t give a turd. Good for them for trying. We’ve allowed the Chinese to steal way too much already. It needs to stop.

    • 0 avatar
      Dy-no-mite Jay

      They may not be able to stop them from using the name in China, but I imagine if they win the case, then Geely probably won’t be able to use that name in the U.S. and would have to rename the company.

      And if they have to rename it for the U.S. Market, they’ll probably rename it for all other markets for consistency.

      But I’m no lawyer so take what I say with a grain of salt.

  • avatar
    mcs

    Why can’t they celebrate their national pride with some Chinese names? How about Tiannamen Motors? Minzhu Hun Motors sounds kind of nice too.

    • 0 avatar
      tekdemon

      Geely is already a Chinese name, and they don’t copy cars or names so this entire article and the comments are just racist trash. Lynk&Co is their youth oriented sub-brand that’s picked to be pronounceable across multiple sales areas in dozens of countries. So just like Lexus or Infiniti aren’t Japanese words like Toyota and Nissan, Lynk&Co is made to be trademarkable which means it can’t actually be a real word-that’s why Infiniti isn’t spelled Infinity, and why Flickr doesn’t have an e in it. But of course you probably knew that and you’re just being a racist douche.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        What’s racist about suggesting names related to the Chinese democracy movement? Brave people that stood up against an authoritarian government. It was a blatant political comment to support individuals that bravely stood up against a government that does not tolerate free speech.

        If we you want to talk about racism, then why is it that they are trying to pick English sounding names? Why not something African sounding or even Eastern European? The car is called Lingke in China, why not stick with that name? Maybe because they are the ones being racist. We’re English speaking Caucasians and we don’t want to buy things with Chinese sounding names? That’s stereotyping a particular race.

        I don’t know where you get the idea it’s racist. This is absolutely nothing to do with race. Maybe you’re getting paid by an entity that didn’t like the reference to Chinese Democracy? There was a similar article and the same situation when Ford went after Tesla for Model E. It happens all the time. Companies try to register trademarks that sound similar to other companies trademarks and the competitor opposes it.

        By the way, I’ve been physically attacked by racists that stated at the time that they didn’t Asians – except they didn’t use those words. I know what a racist comment is because I’ve had to deal with them first hand.

        • 0 avatar
          darex

          I don’t see any Chinese company ever calling themselves “Tianamen Motors.”

        • 0 avatar
          Matt Posky

          While I know it’s in fashion to accuse everyone of racism right now, please don’t conflate accusations that the Chinese auto industry was prone to IP theft with having an axe to grind with the people living within that country. Germany is running afoul for emissions cheating right now yet nobody is getting accused of bigotry whenever it is pointed out.

          Furthermore, the article explicitly states Lynk & Co may very well be in the clear on this one. Ford is obviously throwing its might around and Geely needed a Western-sounding name for its new brand. Does it sound like Lincoln? Yes. Does that mean it was intentional? Not necessarily. Does that have anything to with being Chinese? No.

          Genuine bigotry is unacceptable but we’re talking about corporations here. Pump the brakes.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          Racism – The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.

      • 0 avatar
        brn

        I really wish people would look up the definition of racism before they toss it around.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        “What’s racist about suggesting names related to the Chinese democracy movement? Brave people that stood up against an authoritarian government. It was a blatant political comment to support individuals that bravely stood up against a government that does not tolerate free speech.”

        “Tiananmen Square” has been whitewashed from Chinese history. You can’t even find it on an internet search if you happen to live in China. My son in Grade 9 had a Chinese exchange student in his class. He showed him the famous “Tank man” picture and the kid had no idea what it was about.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    China stole our IP! Wah, boo hoo, not fair. You mean US companies happily prostituted themselves scrambling to put factories into China so the dollar-a-day men could churn out goods on the cheap for US industrialists to inflate their quarterly financial reports. Did they, or do they care about their countrymen? Not when there’s 25

  • avatar
    tekdemon

    This is racism driven nonsense if there ever was. So just because the parent company is Chinese they must be knocking off Lincoln’s brand name? The most ridiculous thing about this idiotic claim is that anybody would want to pretend to be Lincoln, since Lincoln has no damned sales. These cars are going to be sold in the EU and China. Nobody buys Lincolns even in the US let alone abroad.

    Geely is a legitimate brand that’s innovated on their own cars over the years and they’ve done a good job shepherding Volvo back to health but now that they want to launch a youth oriented brand in the US your claim is that they want to confuse people into thinking they’re Lincolns?! Who the hell would launch a youth oriented brand by pretending to be Lincoln!?! And are you also saying that they’re also targeting completely illiterate people who can’t tell Lynk&Co apart from the word Lincoln?

  • avatar
    conundrum

    China stole our IP! Wah, boo hoo, not fair. You mean US companies happily prostituted themselves scrambling to put factories into China so the dollar-a-day men could churn out goods on the cheap for US industrialists to inflate their quarterly financial reports. Did they, or do they care about their countrymen? Not when there’s 25 cents to be made. But let’s blame the foreign country, and not those who enabled them. Baruth has a good recent column on this theme on his own website.

    As for Lynk & Co, any resemblance to Lincoln never struck me before, and I suspect, few others. The OP claims it had hit him, don’t know whether to believe him or not. Can’t find any reference to it earlier in Google, since the product was as unlike any current Lincoln as could be imagined. But those people turning out Lincoln, why they are bothered, apparently. It only took them 9 months to wake up and work themselves into a rage. Sounds like they didn’t get it either until some pencil-doodler came to the realization.

  • avatar
    Spike_in_Brisbane

    This reminds me of the time Ford prevented Ferrari from using the name “F150” on its Formula One race car to celebrate 150 years since Italian unification. The beneficiary of any confusion could only have been Ford itself.
    Currently there is a clothing company in the US selling a line branded “Bondi Beach” and there is a legal tussle with the actual Australian beachside suburb over rights to use the name.
    This sort of nonsense involving unlike products has got to stop.

  • avatar
    Sjalabais

    There’s history in this. Volvo’s “Amazon” was challenged by Kreidler, hence the 120-denomination and decades of number-based names for series-cylindres-doors, like 244. The S4/F4 series was challenged by Audi and renamed to S40/V40. Now this.

  • avatar
    Shortest Circuit

    Did DaimlerChrysler sue Toyota for the “Will VS”? From 3 paces it looks like Willys

  • avatar
    la834

    How did Lincoln and Bentley both wind up selling a car called the Continental? That’s not just a similar name for a similar type of product, that’s an identical name. And of course, the new Continental *looks* like a Bentley.

    Alphanumeric designations are not trademarkable in the US. Thus Lincoln sold an LS at the same time that Saturn sold an LS, and currently there is a BMW 3 series, a Mazda 3, and a Tesla Model 3.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      Ford did go after Tesla when they tried to use the name Model E because it sounded too much like Model T.

      • 0 avatar
        arach

        I don’t think thats quite accurate.

        Ford went after tesla because Ford had already applied for the trademark for model E back in the 2000s. For will supposedly be coming out with the Model E series.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          Tesla applied August 5th, 2013. Ford applied December 13, 2013. Here are links to the actual applications.

          After your comment, I did some research and it’s a complicated story. There was legal action by Ford related to the name back in 2000 against a software firm.

          http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=86029272&caseType=SERIAL_NO&searchType=statusSearch

          http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=86133442&caseType=SERIAL_NO&searchType=statusSearch

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Then there are companies who are smart enough to be able to come to agreements without revving up the legal team. Triumph Motorcycles and GM easily came to agreement twice over the use of the name Bonneville.

      They simply agreed that Triumph wouldn’t get into the car business (the first time, Triumph automobiles and Triumph motorcycles had been separate companies since 1936), and Pontiac wouldn’t get into the motorcycle business. Nice friendly handshake, and everything’s taken care of.

  • avatar
    arach

    LYNK-AMP-ER-SAND-CO

    Vs
    LINC-OLN

    Nope, not getting them confused any more than I confuses:

    Ford

    Fer-arr-i

    Thats a MONDEOGREEN, get it? haha… Mondegreen… Ford Mondeo.. haha.

    Really though, this is ridiculous. Next your going to tell Oal<ley they are infringing on Oakley's copyright. Phhh.

    • 0 avatar
      Marko

      So you pronounce them as “AT-AMPERSAND-T”, “A-AMPERSAND-W”, and “DOLCE-AMPERSAND-GABBANA”? Hmmm….doesn’t quite work that way. Try pronouncing “Link and…” and get back to us.

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    Ford is so stupid.

    This is as dumb as when they threatened Ferrari for wanting to use F150 on a formula one car or when they sued a Mustang club for a calendar.

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