Automaker trademarks name of defunct model

| Feb 1, 2021 | Trademark Law |

Businesses often must modernize and modify their products in order to stay competitive in their specific markets. This is true for automakers who often have to cease production of older vehicles in order to start production of new and more appealing models. New Jersey residents who drive older vehicles may discover that their favorite models are no longer available when they go to buy new cars.

This has been the case for Toyota, a major vehicle manufacturer, that ceased production of their popular Celica vehicle in 2006. However, Toyota recently filed a trademark application to maintain its trademark on the name “Celica” for vehicles. Its actions may beg questions as to why companies choose to maintain trademarks for products they do not produce.

Maintaining a trademark for the future

One reason that Toyota may have chosen to continue its trademark rights over the Celica name is that it could desire to relaunch the model line in the future. Though Toyota does not currently make Celica models, it may want to restart the line at a later date. If Toyota lost the Celica name to another manufacturer before it was ready to produce more in the line, it may lose its opportunity in the future.

Protecting the product’s legacy

Another reason that Toyota may have reapplied to maintain the Celica trademark is to protect the name from being acquired and used by other manufacturers. If another automaker acquired the name, it could launch its own line and potentially capitalize on Toyota’s prior success with their vehicle of the same name. Even without an intention to relaunch the Celica, Toyota can protect its brand by not allowing competitors to take its name recognition.

While readers may generally encounter trademark issues when they wish to secure them for new products or entities, trademark protection can become a historical or legacy matter when businesses want to protect defunct products. Businesses with questions about trademark preservation and other intellectual property matters can contact trusted attorneys to work through their legal needs.


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