Vehicle leasing company Alphabet is investigating whether Google has infringed its trademark after the tech giant gave its new parent company the same name.
Following a restructure, Google has created a new parent company called Alphabet Inc.
The leasing and fleet management company, owned by BMW, told Fleet News: “The possibility of any trademark infringement is currently under review.”
The leasing company’s website – www.alphabet.com – struggled to initially cope with traffic after Google announced the new parent company’s name, with people mistakenly thinking the car leasing site was something to do with the tech company.
Google co-founder Larry Page said the name Alphabet was chosen for two reasons. It represents language, "the core of how we index with Google search", and because Alpha-bet means "investment return above benchmark, which we strive to do".
Google has said that in creating a parent company called Alphabet Inc, it was not intending to build products and brands under that name.
If it did, then it might have to contend with legal fallout for potentially trampling on the trademark rights of what is a fairly common brand among dozens of businesses, including the BMW-owned car leasing company.
In addition to the hundreds of small businesses with Alphabet in their names, there are currently 103 trademark registrations in the United States that include the word "alphabet" or some close variation, according to a database search of the US Patent and Trademark Office.
The registrations include computer games, clothing labels, furniture, toys, all manner of children's books, as well as Alphabet Vodka and the Alphabet City Brewing Co in New York City, reports Reuters.
Most of these brands have little to do with Google's newer ventures to be housed under the Alphabet umbrella, including its divisions working on smart contact lenses and driverless cars.
But calling the car division Alphabet could pose a problem with the car leasing company of the same name.
In order to prove trademark infringement, a trademark owner would have to show that the new Alphabet created a "likelihood of confusion" among consumers between the two brands. This could occur if both brands offered similar goods and services.
But in making the announcement, Page said: "We are not intending for this to be a big consumer brand with related products - the whole point is that Alphabet companies should have independence and develop their own brands."