GTI Name Does Not Belong to Volkswagen Says European Court

Mike Stevens | Mar 22, 2012

Over the years, the name GTI has been affixed to some of the greatest (and some of the worst) hot hatches ever made.

The good ones include Peugeot's hedge-threatening 205 GTI (and the 306, 206 and 207), the much-loved Suzuki Swift GTI and the car that started it all, the Volkswagen Golf GTI.

Although the Suzuki was sold here in Australia for some years without legal drama, when Suzuki tried the same trick again in 2004, Volkswagen blocked the move through the courts.

Initially, rather than wasting time and money fighting the ruling, Suzuki let it go and instead released the car as the Swift Sport in 2006.

This was despite Suzuki making their case to the curiously-titled European Office for the Harmonisation in the International Market (OHIM).

Their appeal to this body to be allowed to the use the GTI descriptor was approved as long as it was on a Swift. And the 'i' had to be lower case.

Not long after, Suzuki thought better of it, taking VW to court.

The best part of a decade after the initial application, the General Court of the European Union has decided that nobody in their right mind would mistake a Swift for a Volkswagen and therefore Suzuki could use the nameplate.

The ruling also mentioned that because GTI stands for Gran Turismo Injected, Volkswagen can't really lay claim to it. The Volkswagen Group's luxury arm Audi was also prevented from locking out TDI because of the generic nature of the initials.

Further complicating the matter, the awkward business relationship between Suzuki and the German giant is slowly worsening.

VW refuses to sell its 20 percent stake in Suzuki, which it bought in 2009, while the Japanese company argues the relationship is preventing them from forming partnerships with other car makers.

Suzuki has filed for arbitration in the European Union in an attempt to break the relationship with Volkswagen and force the sale of VW's stake.

Volkswagen says it plans to appeal the GTI decision in the European Court of Justice, the highest court in the Union. (Good grief... maybe the Italians could reclaim Gran Turismo.)

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Filed under: Volkswagen, Suzuki, hot hatch, gti, volkswagen golf gti, law, News, volkswagen gti, industry, suzuki swift sport, suzuki swift gti

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  • Smart us says,
    3 years ago
    1 like
    Darth Vader of VW group... leave little Suzuki alonebleh
  • Godspeed says,
    3 years ago
    I have good memories of driving an old white Swift GTi back in the day when they were all the rage in Oz. Short wheelbase and sleek 3 door body, tight short throw gearbox and something like an 8000 rpm redline. Made me think I was driving a four wheeled equivalent of a GSXR1000...

    And none of that has ANYTHING to do with a Volkswagen. The VW GTI is a great car in its own right, but they've got no right to 'own' that nameplate. Since most of legal arbitration is based on the 'reasonable person' and what is in the public domain I say put it to a sample of the public for a vote, I bet no-one would confuse the two cars. The only people that would care would be the VW GTI fanbois.
  • cackalacka says,
    3 years ago
    VW GTI Fanboi here, Godspeed, and I have to say I could care less if a third auto group used 'GTI.'
  • Dave says,
    3 years ago
    1 like
    This reminds me of when a company I used to work for, Apple Communication, was sued by Apple despite the fact that there are many companies that use the word APPLE and that we were only a broadband reseller.

    Anyway, I wonder if anyone tried to trademark the letter R.
  • FilCM says,
    3 years ago
    GT-> italian Gran Turismo, like Lancia Aurelia B20 coupè, Maserati3500 GT, Alfa giulia Gt and many others.
    2 doors coupè sport car with all, technic, body. chassis, design dedicated
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