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Honda Fights Subaru Over Trademarking Legacy Name

February 22, 1990

DETROIT (AP) _ Honda Motor Co. Ltd., which makes the Acura Legend car, said it has filed a complaint seeking to block a trademark for the Subaru Legacy car name.

Bob Butorac, a spokesman for Honda’s U.S. marketing arm in California, said Wednesday that his company is not challenging use of the Legacy name. Honda, however, does not want a trademark granted for the Legacy, Butorac said. He declined to elaborate.

Honda’s challenge was filed in December with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Arlington, Va., Butorac said. Telephones at the patent office were busy Wednesday afternoon.

Fred Heiler, a Subaru spokesman, said an application for the Legacy trademark was filed July 29, 1989, by Fuji Heavy Industries Inc. of Japan, parent company of Subaru of America Inc.

Heiler said his company conducted 2 1/2 years of research into the Legacy name before using it on its compact car made in Japan and Lafayette, Ind.

″I think we did our homework,″ he said. ″Then this sort of comes out of left field, frankly.″

The Legacy’s base price is about $15,000. A fully-equipped Legend, the top of Honda’s Acura line of luxury cars, sells for about twice as much.

Two other trademark battles involving automobile names were fought and resolved last year.

General Motors Corp. and the Italian weapons maker Fabbrica D’Armi Pietro Beretta S.p.A. last May settled a suit bought by the gun-maker against GM for using the name Chevrolet Beretta. As part of the settlement, GM agreed to pay $500,000 to the Beretta Foundation for Cancer Research and Treatment.

Chevrolet kept the name.

In March 1989, a federal appeals court in New York turned aside a challenge by Mead Data Central Inc. of Dayton, Ohio, to Toyota Motor Corp.’s use of the name Lexus for a line of luxury automobiles. Mead Data markets a legal information retrieval service called Lexis.

Two models of Lexus cars went on sale last September.

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