A previous post took a deep dive into two recently filed U.S. eco-mark applications filed by General Motors for the marks BOLT and CHEVROLET BOLT (Application Nos. 86357513 and 86357523 for “motor land vehicles, namely, automobiles”).
That post explained how GM could secure federal trademark registrations for these marks without ever actually using them in the United States. The analysis provided support for some of the electric vehicle blogs, which speculated that GM might not actually intend to use the marks at all, but instead was merely using the trademark system to ward off competitors from using them.
We’ve been proven wrong.
At the Detroit Auto Show last month, GM unveiled the Chevrolet Bolt, an all-electric concept car coming to market in 2017. The Bolt supposedly will have a 200-mile driving range (with a battery made by LG Chem), DC fast charging capability, and autonomous driving technology. A recent GM Bolt article confirms production of the Bolt EV.
The 2017 planned production date probably impacted the timing of GM’s trademark application filings.
As discussed in my previous post, U.S. trademark applications filed on the basis of foreign filed applications, as the BOLT and CHEVROLET BOLT applications are (they are based on Brazilian trademark applications) can register in the U.S. by virtue of the foreign applications maturing to registration without the need to actually use the marks in the U.S.
However, without eventual use, typically within three years of the U.S. registration date, the U.S. registrations become vulnerable to cancellation for non-use of the marks. So the owner of a U.S. trademark registration registered solely on the basis of a foreign or international registration (i.e., without use in the United States) cannot successfully enforce its trademark in a U.S. court.
The target production date of 2017 would put GM’s use of its BOLT and CHEVROLET BOLT trademarks comfortably within the three-year period after registration of its trademark applications. So if GM sticks to its plans for the Chevy Bolt, it will have enforceable trademark rights after all.