February 2018. Car-maker Ford, owner of the Lincoln trademark, has failed to stop Chinese company Geely using the word Lynk&Co as a trademark for cars in the UK. Why? Because it hasn’t been used there for quite some time.
Geely, which acquired Volvo in 2010, launched its global brand Lynk&Co in 2016 to fill a position between the Geely and Volvo brands. Ford felt that Lynk&Co was far too similar to the word Lincoln, and filed an opposition to its registration in the UK.
Left a Continental Convertible 1942 and right the Lynk&Co (source autocar.co.uk)
Lack of use
However, the UK Intellectual Property Office concluded that Ford had been unable to show it had used the Lincoln trademark in the UK over the past 5 years. If a trademark owner hasn’t used his trademark within 5 years of registering it, he can’t bring a case on the strength of it (and there’s also a risk someone else might apply to have the registration cancelled).
Used, but only by importers
Ford also put forward the argument that Lincolns were still being imported and sold in the UK. But because it has no links with these importers, it couldn’t claim their use of the trademark for itself.