Aug 04, 2017 04:54 AM

Ford Says New Geely SUV Name Sounds Mighty Familiar

Ford Motor Co. has accused a new high-end Chinese auto brand called Lynk & Co of infringing on the trademark of its luxury brand Lincoln. Photo: IC
Ford Motor Co. has accused a new high-end Chinese auto brand called Lynk & Co of infringing on the trademark of its luxury brand Lincoln. Photo: IC

Ford Motor Co. has said the name of a new high-end Chinese auto brand, Lynk & Co, is a little too similar to its own Lincoln luxury label.

“Lynk & Co is infringing on the Lincoln ... trademark. Their name as it stands will confuse customers,” a Lincoln spokesperson wrote to Automotive News, an online car publication, saying its intent is to protect the 100-year history of Lincoln.

The American company has not yet filed a complaint over the issue, and has until Nov. 15 to file an appeal with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office against Lynk & Co’s registered trademark.

The brand marks a new venture by Chinese carmaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group — the owners of Swedish brand Volvo and posh British sports car Lotus — which launched a line of compact SUVs in October.

Neither Lynk & Co nor its lawyers in the case — Beijing based Unitalen Attorneys at Law – could immediately comment on the matter.

Lynk & Co is aiming for the global market, planning to launch a hybrid SUV first in China by the end of the year, then in the European market near the middle of 2018, before rolling out in the U.S. shortly thereafter. No price has yet been announced.

Meanwhile, Ford announced plans to build a Lincoln SUV tailored for the Chinese market with its growing appetite for high-end utility vehicles.

British carmaker Jaguar Land Rover took legal action in a similar case in 2015, challenging Chinese auto-firm Jiangling Motor for its Land Wind model X7, a cheaper look-alike of the Land Rover Evoque, filing a lawsuit for copyright infringement in a Beijing court last year.

Lynk & Co partly derives its name from its aim to market a connected car, as it launches its own app store and operating system, allowing user customization.

Geely’s latest breed of tech-savvy cars, pronounced “lingke” in Chinese, bears a phonetic similarity to the Chinese name for Lincoln, even though it uses different characters and has different tones.

Geely has been able to create an upscale brand thanks to the design and engineering of Volvo, which it bought from Ford in 2010 for $1.5 billion. Lynk & Co has deep ties with the Swedish brand, not only employing former executives for expertise in design and brand strategy, but also building the vehicle using Volvo technology. Geely shares a plant in Luqiao, China, where the upcoming Volvo XC40 compact crossover will be manufactured.

The Swedish carmaker holds a minority stake in Lynk & Co.

When it set up shop in the eastern province of Zhejiang in 1998, Geely was intent on being the “producer of the cheapest car in China,” it said, and it has forged its way with affordable models that satisfy a price-sensitive but booming market for personal vehicles.

Geely has been eyeing a position as a world-class automotive brand, catering to the nation’s emerging middle class, buying out established and respected names overseas to bolster its own design and production capacity.

Since its high-profile acquisition of Volvo, the firm now holds the technology and intellectual property of London black-cab manufacturer Manganese Bronze Holdings, Malaysia’s mid-range Proton, and Australian automatic-transmission supplier Drivetrain Systems International, as well as being the controlling stakeholder of luxury brand Lotus.

Contact reporter April Ma (

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