Perhaps Google (Alphabet?) should have googled its new name before it decided to restructure the whole company.
The surprise formation of Alphabet, a holding company headed by Larry Page and Sergey Brin of which Google is now a part, may have impressed investors, but BMW is evidently less pleased. It’s apparently an issue of nomenclature: the German automaker owns the trademark Alphabet and domain name alphabet.com, and has no interest in selling either of them.
BMW is looking into whether Google’s Alphabet has infringed on its trademark, with no legal action currently planned. Since the announcement, Alphabet.com has been down, likely due to the increased traffic it is undoubtedly receiving. .
Other companies also have the Alphabet name. Reuters notes that more than 100 companies have trademark registrations in the U.S. that incorporate the word alphabet in some capacity. For example, Alphabet, Inc. is an Ohio company founded in 1965 that manufactures electrical components for the auto industry, according to Bloomberg.
Even the @Alphabet Twitter handle already has an owner. It belongs to a man named Chris Andrikanich, who is probably receiving a bit more attention than he’s used to.
Y Combinator founder Paul Graham wrote a blog post saying it is an absolute must for companies to own the .com domain for their names just days before Google’s announcement. While Graham says domains aren’t as important for finding a company’s online presence as they used to be, not owning the .com domain “signals weakness.”
This might not prove to be an issue for the new Alphabet, however. Google founder Page said Alphabet wouldn’t be introducing products under its own name, so it wouldn’t be a public facing name like Google.In any event, it’s oddly comforting to know Google/Alphabet has the same problem many do when they’re trying to purchase a domain for their own website.