Ever browse around the trademark and patent applications put in by different car companies? No? Well if you did, you would’ve noticed that in 2021, Ford attempted to claim the “Skyline” name for use on motor vehicles, as Carbuzz reported at the time. The automaker used to sell a convertible called the “Skyliner” after all, so perhaps it was trying to make a callback to that name. In Japan, however, Nissan has sold several vehicles called the Skyline, some of which were transformed into well-known, high-performance GT-R models. This ruffled a few feathers.

There was a resulting trademark battle which, as of now, is still unresolved. Let’s be clear: Just because an automaker trademarks a name doesn’t mean it intends to produce a vehicle bearing that moniker. That being said, these designations—think “Mustang” or “Corvette”—obviously have a lot of value. For that reason, automakers protect them pretty ferociously.

Ford’s 2021 Skyline trademark application was met with a response from Nissan. The Japanese car company already had the name protected in the United States for “light and sounds toys in the nature of miniature cars with LED lights” and “Computer game software in the field of automotive racing.” After Ford’s attempt to claim it for automobiles, Nissan applied to protect it in the context of “Model cars; minicars, namely, toy cars.” The application was granted in August 2022. You may not think that would’ve done much good, but the Patent and Trademark Office rejected Ford’s initial claim later that same year in September. The Blue Oval automaker abandoned its attempts to protect “Skyline” shortly after this.

Why Ford wanted the Skyline name is uncertain. What is clear is that Nissan applied to protect it stateside once again after Ford’s attempt went kaput. Despite reporting that Nissan now has the name on-lock, that’s not quite true. The Japanese automaker has only applied to protect the name as of a few days ago. Nothing has been formally granted.


What’s the result of all this? It’s tough to say right now. Automakers engaging in legal scrambling for a name they may or may not use is just one unusual facet of this industry. Similar to patents, they absolutely can indicate that something might go into production down the road. In the same breath, these claims may amount to nothing. The only real winner here is lawyers.

Got a tip? Send us a note:

The post How Ford and Nissan Battled Over the ‘Skyline’ Trademark—and Why It’s Not Over Yet appeared first on The Drive.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *