Yesterday it was reported that Volkswagen’s electric vehicles will be sold under the brand name “Voltswagen” in the US. There’s also speculation as to whether this is an April Fool’s Day joke. Many sources are now saying that the change is for real.
We think the change is unlikely to happen, at least in the immediate future. The clue is in the trademark registers. It is unlikely that a big change like this would be made without first securing (or at least filing) a trademark. No trademark application for “Voltswagen” exists as of today. If the change is imminent, there should already be one or multiple filed applications pending. This appears to not be the case. Even if the trademark was filed under a different owner (as sometimes happens), it would still show in the trademark databases, although with a different owner.
Larger companies typically secure trademark rights before big launches. Having to change the name soon after launch can be damaging to their reputation and customer trust. It certainly leaves an amateurish impression. Having said that, Apple has had major problems with both iPhone and iPad trademarks after their launch. For example, they had to pay 60M USD for the trademark in China. Of course, with nearly unlimited resources, that’s peanuts.
When Uber announced its “Uber Works” platform for shift workers in October 2019, they had already secured the trademark. The application was filed approximately one year earlier and when they launched the brand, the trademark examination was already completed. This is how companies usually handle the launch of new brands or the rebranding of old products.
Taking into account that Volkswagen has not applied for the trademark VOLTSWAGEN, it is unlikely that they are planning to use that name in the immediate future. This may change, of course, and we suspect the first clue that this is happening is a trademark filing somewhere, perhaps under a different owner (maybe a law firm, employee, or other intermediaries). If the change is going to happen in the immediate future, somebody has dropped the ball in the legal department by failing the secure the trademark.