A trademark for the name Skyline has been filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office under the category for motor vehicles. Normally, that would have enthusiasts cautiously optimistic about the potential of one of Japan’s most popular models coming stateside. However, the trademark was filed by Ford, not Nissan. Oops.
The filing, discovered by the website Ford Authority, was made by Ford for the category of “Motor and land vehicles, namely, SUVs, trucks, and automobiles”. That could mean Ford is planning to use the name on an upcoming model, simply reserving it in case they want to use it on an upcoming model, or just massively trolling Nissan. In any case, it precludes Nissan from using it unless lawyers get involved.
What’s an even bigger fail is that the filing was made on July 12, exactly one day after Nissan filed for the Fairlady Z trademark on July 11, 2021. It’s highly unlikely that Nissan is going to call the next Z the Fairlady Z in the US, but apparently it believes there is enough of a cachet with the JDM name that enthusiasts in America will at least buy some Fairlady Z swag. Note that the category is “Tie tacks, cuff links, lapel pins, watches, clocks, wall clocks, key rings of precious metal, ornamental badges of precious metal”.
Now, Ford did use the name Skyliner on various convertible models back in the 50s, including the Galaxie Skyliner, which was the last factory retractable hardtop convertible until the Mitsubishi 3000GT Spyder came along in 1995. Its last use was in 1959. Today, though, the Skyline name is invariably tied to Nissan in the minds of anyone whose knowledge of cars goes beyond “it has four wheels”.
This is precisely why car companies sometimes file for trademarks even if they don’t use them. Toyota, for example, was wise to renew the Celica trademark, even if they never bring back a sporty coupe to hang the badge on (though we hope they do).
If we were Nissan’s lawyers, we’d probably be working overtime right now to file trademarks for Silvia, Bluebird, Cefiro, Sunny, Patrol, Cima, well, you get the idea.