Notes From the Trademark World: “Gleagle”? Really?

May 25, 2010

Just saw this from Shanghaiist:

Chinese automaker Geely will soon usurp Tata Motors’ crown as producer of the world’s cheapest car. Geely is developing its own mini car, called the Gleagle IG, that will be even more affordable than Tata’s Nano. With a $2,250 price tag, it beats the Nano by almost a grand.

I can’t get into this story in a straightforward manner for two reasons. First, I’m not a car guy, don’t know anything about Geely or its competitors, and actually have little interest in the industry.

Second, I’m still waist-deep in this trademark lawyers’ conference in Boston. Today is Day Three, and I’m on the verge of losing the ability to manage coherent thought for more than a minute or two at a time. (Yes, yes, I know. How is this any different from my usual blogging? Ha ha.)

So merely as an aside, I mainly just wanted to say “Gleagle?” Really? It’s quite a strange brand name. I’m assuming it is a weird hybridization of “Geely” and “Beagle” or perhaps “Eagle”? Hard to say, although I’m not sure that using “Beagle” is such a great image to use, even though the car is sort of small and cute. Unless it’s a homage to the HMS Beagle, in which case I, unabashed heathen atheist that I am, would of course applaud the name.

On the other hand, and I have no choice after three straight days of this conference, there are trademark concerns. Lots of companies create new words for their brands. In addition to being ear-catching (see, I just made up a new word myself), these words are generally easier to trademark.

Made-up words are not generic, they are not descriptive of the use of the product (both are no-nos), and they have less of a chance of being similar to existing marks. All well and good from a trademark registration standpoint.

On the other other hand, Chinese companies have made up some very questionable English words over the years, usually by taking advice from guys from Hong Kong whose English is not really as perfect as they like to think it is — sorry, but I had to say it.

My favorite example is also from the auto industry: Roewe. If you are not already familiar with this car brand and yet still intuitively understand how to pronounce this brand, then you are a very talented individual indeed. I’ve never been able to figure it out.

Rule #1: When making up English words, at least create something that is easy/possible to pronounce.

Somehow I don’t think that this rule is the focus of any of the workshops or seminars taking place at this trademark conference, but perhaps this should be part of the 2011 curriculum.

As far as “Gleagle” is concerned, it is not exactly an unpronounceable word, but it is kinda goofy.

One thought on “Notes From the Trademark World: “Gleagle”? Really?

  1. Chris Devonshire-Ellis

    It doesn’t “beat it by a grand”. The basic Tata Nano sells for the equivilent of USD2,500. At USD2,250 it beats it by 10 per cent. It’s a bit of a silly comparison also as the two cars will not compete in each others markets anyway. I may also point out that the price for the Nano when fitting to Euro specifications for those markets will be far higher at about USD6,500, and that Geely will have the same issues if they want to sell it on overseas markets. The Nano will also be manufactured in the UK for the Euro markets as Tata will roll it out of their Land Rover assembly plants; Geely doesn’t currently have that option. – Chris