Alphabet, the recently formed conglomerate and holding company for Google, might have ran into some early trouble with trademark issues. The trademark ‘Alphabet’ is already owned by someone else, German auto manufacturer BMW.
Used for BMW’s leasing and fleet management business, Alphabet has been a part of BMW for a long time. A BMW spokeswoman said that neither CEO Larry Page or anyone else from Google got in touch prior to the Alphabet announcement to acquire the trademark and domain. The spokeswoman also said BMW has no plans to sell the trademark.
This puts Alphabet in quite a pickle, since Google works in the auto industry through its self-driving project. It might also be planning to launch a fleet of taxi cars, which would be in direct competition with Uber.
If that happens, Google would need to find special clearance to use the Alphabet trademark or fight BMW in court. That said, by removing the conglomerate from the consumer side of things, it might be able to get away with it, by naming the self-driving and taxi service something else.
It is still a risky business, since trademarks are defended from any and all infractions.
Most of the products and services launched under the Alphabet umbrella will be named Google. Google Fiber, Ventures, Capital, Maps, Search; the list goes on. Unless Alphabet intends to start naming new divisions after the holding company, it should be fine.
BMW’s Alphabet site went offline earlier today, after a huge amount of web traffic bombarded the site. The holding company Alphabet is using the abc.xyz domain for now, a throwback to HBO’s Silicon Valley conglomerate Hooli.
Alphabet has not commented on the report.