Just this week, GM’s product development chief Mark Reuss was quoted as saying that a rival to the Ford F-150 Raptor does not rank high on GM’s list of priorities, instead saying that a production version of the Chevy Colorado ZR2 concept is much more likely to come to market.
Reporters then turned to Buick-GMC Vice President Duncan Aldred to gleam more information on the trademark application for the term Badlands that GM filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office earlier in 2015, and which GM Authority was first to discover.
“When you are looking at terms, or names and phrases, the first thing you do, even if it is a speck of an idea, you trademark the name because it can become a legal mine field,” Aldred was quoted as saying in March. “If someone says, ‘I like that,’ you generally go for it and work out if you might use it later.”
“We’ve probably got hundreds, if not thousands, of names (we) don’t use”, he added.
The GM Authority Take
A quick brief on trademark applications:
The intricacies of the trademark process are such that the USPTO will only approve a trademark application if the applicant “claims in good faith” that it will use the mark in commerce (a real-world product or service). This is performed via a document called the Statement of Use — one of the unavoidable last steps in the USPTO’s trademark process that determines whether or not a trademark application is approved.
In other words, if the applicant can not or does not provide a Statement of Use demonstrating specific, good faith plans to use the trademark being applied for in a real-world product or service, then the USPTO does not approve the application. If that weren’t the case, then everyone — from people to companies and possibly even monkeys — would be filing trademarks for things they they “like”, resulting in the trademark equivalent of patent and domain squatting.
This small yet important detail of the trademark process dispels the popular misconception that, as Mr. Aldred puts it, “a speck of an idea” can be trademarked. As you can see, this is simply not the case.
Now as it specifically relates Badlands: the automaker only filed the Badlands application on February 16th, 2015. As of this writing, the application has a status of 630 – New Application – Record Initialized Not Assigned To Examiner.
Over the next few months, the USPTO will assign GM’s Badlands trademark application to an examiner and then publish it for opposition, which is a step in the trademark process that places the application in the USPTO’s Official Gazette, a weekly trademark journal listing the trademarks in the process of being considered for registration. This period, usually lasting 12 weeks, allows others to become aware of GM’s intent to register the Badlands mark and oppose its registration if they so desire.
If all this goes through without a hitch, then the USPTO will grant GM a Notice of Allowance, “a written notification from the USPTO that a specific mark has survived the opposition period following publication in the Official Gazette, and has consequently been allowed.”
At this point, it will be up to GM to file the aforementioned Statement of Use. The General will have a bit of time to provide the document to the USPTO, as it can request up to 5 extensions each lasting 6 months.
All the above is obviously an oversimplified summary of the USPTO trademark process. Even so, it specifically presents why even “ideas” that those within GM “like” as good product names aren’t registered as trademarks, but simply applied for.