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Stirring the Alphabet Soup

VonGilbert Kreijger, Thomas Kuhn and Rebecca Eisert

Google is not the first company to think of the name Alphabet. Germany's BMW is checking whether Google’s new holding company violates the brand rights of the luxury car maker’s leasing subsidiary.


bmw alphabet Source PR

California-based Google’s surprise decision this week to launch a massive reorganization of its operations, creating a new holding company called Alphabet, has created problems in far-away Munich.

The trouble was at the headquarters of the Bavarian carmaker BMW’s leasing and fleet management firm. The BMW subsidiary has been called Alphabet since 1997, and it even owns the Internet domain name alphabet.com. That website crashed this week as people from all over the world tried to get information – not about BMW but about Google’s new holding firm of the same name.

Alphabet leases out and manages more than 555,000 cars of all brands in 18 countries for corporate customers, though it has no operations in the United States. The company is fully owned by German luxury carmaker BMW.

“We will examine whether there are any implications over trademarks,” a BMW spokeswoman told German business weekly WirtschaftsWoche, a publication of the Handelsblatt publishing group.

Google did not contact BMW beforehand, nor has there been any clarification about branding rights, the BMW spokeswoman said.

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