On December 28, 2020, Toyota Motor Corporation filed a trademark request for the words “Grand Highlander” with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Does this mean that a larger Highlander is on the way? A more elegant one? Here’s what we know.
The trademark of “Grand Highlander” was applied for under the “Automobiles and structural parts thereof” section of the application for a word mark as a standard character mark. This is identical to how the RAV4 Prime application was filed in November 2019.
It is different than other automaker trademark requests. For example, Ford Motor Company applied for the “Bronco Sport” work mark with a much broader specified area of commitment for the words:
“Land motor vehicles, namely, passenger automobiles, pick-up trucks, sport utility vehicles; land motor vehicle parts for passenger automobiles, pick-up trucks, sport utility vehicles, namely, shock absorbers, shock absorbing springs, vehicle anti-roll bars, braces for suspension struts, exterior metal decorative and protective trim, exterior plastic extruded decorative and protective trim, differentials, gear shifts, hoods, fascia, steering wheels, seat trim, parking brakes, wheels, brake discs, brake calipers, brake pads, engines, engine or motor mufflers, exhaust pipes, exhaust headers, air intakes, oil fill caps, coolant fill caps, engine valve covers, ignition coil covers, radiators, and exterior insignia badges”
The “Grand Highlander” mark is currently in the 1B stage of the trademark process.Following the initial filing the USPTO reviews the application. From there, it is decided whether or not the application will be approved. Upon approval, the mark is published for opposition reaction. If it passes without opposition, a Notice of Allowance is issued. From there, a statement of use needs to be filed, then reviewed before the trademark is officially filed.
If the mark is not initially approved, there is a rebuttal process and subsequent amendments to the initial filing are allowed. After that process is complete, the Notice of Allowance can be issued, or the trademark request can be rejected outright.
For the “RAV4 Prime” mark, the entire process took about a year with the mark published for opposition in February 2020 and the registration was completed in December 2020. The “Bronco Sport” mark was published for opposition in April 2020 and has yet to reach the final approval stage.
That’s a lot to say, that the Grand Highlander mark may mean that something is in the pipeline, or it may not. We know for sure that the Land Cruiser is leaving the U.S. lineup soon. Toyota doesn’t use the “Grand” name in any of its North American vehicles. But, it also doesn’t mean that it won’t.
But, what about a concept car? Toyota has been using alphanumeric names for their concept vehicles lately. The Lexus LF-1 Limitless, Lexus LF-30 Electrified, and the Toyota FT-4X Concept debuted a few years ago.
Could the filing allude to a new, super fancy Highlander? Maybe? It’s hard to see how a super fancy Highlander would work to improve the differentiation between the Lexus and Toyota brands though. That’s a line that the recent Venza arrival made even blurrier.
Will the Grand Highlander replace the Land Cruiser? Theoretically, a big three-row version of the Highlander that rides on the Tundra platform could be something Americans would buy. Is it something that Toyota would produce? They really do love to have a vehicle for every segment.