Earlier this year, Toyota made news with the revelation that they’d put in a trademark application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for the phrase “Grand Highlander”. Now, the company is making news for another trademark filing. This one is for the word “Trailhunter”.
The trademark of “Trailhunter” 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 “Trailhunter” 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.
So, what does it mean? Nothing is official yet. Some think that the Trailhunter may be a new small SUV that is trail-ready in the vein of the Ford Bronco Sport. I may line up against the RAV4 line the Escape and the Bronco Sport align in the Ford lineup. A few years ago Toyota debuted the FT-4X Concept, a four-door four-wheel drive crossover.
Toyota FT-4X Concept
Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.
On the other hand, Toyota has been playing with the word “trail” for the 2021 model year, giving the Tacoma, Tundra, and Sequoia Trail Edition variants.