GM and Yamaha Agree to Co-exist with use of “Bolt” Trademark

By Joseph Mandour on June 10, 2015

automobile-pluginLos Angeles – Despite less than stellar sales and perceived high prices, auto makers continue to release new electric vehicles. This is partly due to the fact that manufacturers are under a government mandate to increase the average miles per gallon of their fleets.

Chevy of GM Motors recently unveiled its new electric car at the Detroit Auto Show. Building on the Volt name, the new car is called the “Bolt” and boasts a 200-mile range once fully charged. Tagged with an estimated asking price of around $35,000, GM has promised that this new model would be available to consumers within two years.

To protect the name, GM submitted a U.S. Trademark Application in August of last year for “Chevrolet Bolt.” The application was filed in regard to “motor land vehicles, namely, automobiles.” However, GM ran into an unexpected road bump with the with the model’s name.

In 2012, Yamaha submitted a Trademark Application for “Bolt” to be the name of its newest motorcycle model. Yamaha’s Bolt trademark application registered in 2013 and thus was cited against GM’s Chevrolet Bolt application. In an Office Action, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office stated that the uses were too similar and thus likely to create consumer confusion. To make matters worse, GM’s application was also suspended due to prior pending applications for BOLT CUSTOM TRUCKS AND MANUFACTURING and a related design trademark. Again the reason cited was the potential for consumer confusion.

It now appears that GM was able to overcome all refusals by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office since the Chevrolet Bolt application was recently approved for publication. Barring a third party objection, it appears that it will register.

To overcome the Yamaha refusal, GM entered into a consent agreement with Yamaha in which both parties agreed that consumer confusion was not likely. GM was able to overcome the refusal as to the BOLT CUSTOM TRUCKS AND MANUFACTURING trademark application by arguing that the trademarks were sufficiently different such that confusion was not likely.

Despite the legal wrangling, some car enthusiasts still don’t like the Bolt name. Some agree it is too similar to the Yamaha Bolt, while others think the name is too similar to Chevy’s other electric car- the similar sounding Volt.

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