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How GM Almost Lost The Corvette Trademark Thanks to Wikipedia

Some days, you just have to scratch your head. Back in 2008, Jim M. Sweeney wanted to register the trademark “CorVOLTte” for “electric vehicles, namely, automobiles.” For whatever reason, General Motors opposed Sweeney saying, “it would cause confusion with the Corvette.”

GM presented several trademark registrations to the court in its opposition to Sweeney’s CorVOLTte application, but it failed to present the most relevant registration, the one for Corvette as a trademark for automobiles.

Rather, GM pleaded on the grounds of fame and attempted to claim the CorVOLTte would lead to the “dilution of the Corvette mark.” To evidence fame, General Motors presented the court with several book entries to showcase Corvette prominence as an automobile, relying heavily on the Corvette Wikipedia entry.

In response to the submission of the book and Wikipedia entry as proof of fame, the court said:There is no evidence of sales, advertising or the extent of the mark’s renown. To the extent that opposer (GM) has relied on the Wikipedia evidence to establish the fame of the CORVETTE mark, an Internet entry is admissible for the limited purpose of demonstrating what has been printed, not for the truth of what has been printed.”

Luckily, the judges were thorough and after careful analysis of the names, spellings and history of the name, concluded that indeed, the CorVOLTte and Corvette titles were too similar to another and ruled in favor of General Motors.



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