Before Larry Page and Sergey Brin announced the existence of Alphabet, one would assume the two did their homework to make sure the name was actually available. Well, turns out it isn’t; in fact, not only has the domain already been scooped up, but the Alphabet trademark already belongs to another (and very unexpected) company. And, no, they don’t want to sell.
First noticed by The New York Times, German automaker BMW is actually the owner of said trademark, which means Page and Brin could be in some very hot water. That’s assuming BMW wants to pursue any legal recourse. Would the car company even have a case? On the surface, it doesn’t appear the companies are very similar. But dig a little deeper, and that’s when things start to get hazy.
If BMW were to file litigation, the company would need to prove that the existence of Google’s Alphabet is too similar to its own Alphabet, which provides platform services to help companies keep track of company vehicles. When said out loud, the two don’t seem all that similar. But remember that Google is very much embedded in the automotive space, testing out autonomous technology and building infotainment software.
Suddenly BMW might have a case. That’s not to mention the many other midsize and small companies also using the Alphabet name. While most companies don’t have the resources to take Google head on in court, BMW is a different story.
The automaker said it hasn’t been in contact with Page or Brin about the name, and confirmed it is examining whether to take action over trademark infringement. Using the Alphabet name, the origin of which excites Page, makes a lot of sense in the context of Google’s ambitions. But it could be short-lived if BMW has anything to say about it.