What does it mean for Nissan going forward?
CarBuzz has uncovered a new United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) document confirming Nissan has regained the naming rights to "Skyline" nearly two years after Ford applied for and received those rights.
The Skyline name has been synonymous with Nissan for decades, attached to the one and only GT-R. It should come as no surprise the Japanese automaker couldn't allow the Blue Oval to claim those rights permanently. Ford never used the name, so what was the purpose behind the strange 2021 trademark filing?
The July 2021 application wording was vague, stating it "intended to cover the categories of motor land vehicles, namely, SUVs, trucks, and automobiles." It didn't take long for Nissan to strike back. An August 2021 trademark filing stated it "intended to cover the categories of model cars."
In other words, games, toys, and sporting goods. Nissan even submitted pictures of die-cast models of the R34 GT-R and 25GT-X sedan.
At the very least, its intention was to secure the Skyline naming rights to everything but the vehicle itself until it could reclaim the name in full. And, to be extra careful, Nissan secured Skyline naming rights in Canada that same month for "automobiles, electric cars, wagons, trucks; vans [vehicles], and sport utility vehicles." The latest USPTO documents have a filing date of February 10, 2023, and were accepted on March 1.
Nissan filed the trademark in several categories, covering all its basis. The primary trademark is for Class 12, which covers air spoiler spacers, air box ducts, gasket adapters, body side trims, and torque split accumulators, to name just a few. This class even covers the rear quarter glass, window visor sets, and leather shift boots.
In short, there's nothing another company can build using the Skyline name that won't be considered copyright infringement.
The carmaker clearly wanted and received naming rights to everything Skyline related. We don't know how Nissan managed to snag the rights away from Ford, but we're speculating this might have been a private deal.
Ford might have ultimately determined it had no future use for anything regarding Skyline, enabling Nissan to regain what's rightfully theirs. Whatever happened, we're just thrilled it did, and this leads directly to what Nissan will do next. We already have a solid prediction.
Last month, Nissan announced significant changes to its Nissan Ambition 2030 Plan, which now calls for an increase from 23 new electrified vehicles to 27 (including 19 BEVs) by 2030.
Not all of these vehicles will be sold in the US (other markets include Europe, Japan, and China), but we know at least two EVs - a Nissan and an Infiniti - will be manufactured in the US, most likely at the Canton Vehicle Assembly Plant in Mississippi.
These vehicles could serve as BEV successors for the aging Maxima and Q50, and the Skyline name might be applied to one of them. The idea of a revived Skyline as an all-electric and sleek sedan sounds perfect, especially if it utilized the Ariya's dual-motor drivetrain that produces 389 horsepower. In a previous interview with Nissan's design chief, he also stated that he couldn't wait to start using legacy names to manufacture new electric vehicles.
Automakers very rarely (read: never) comment on future products, so asking Nissan about Skyline naming plans would be pointless, but we can at least rest easy knowing the naming rights are back where they belong.
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