Perhaps Google (Alphabet?) should have googled its new name before it decided to restructure the whole company.
The New York Times reports that Google’s new parent company, Alphabet, has encountered an issue with german automaker BMW, which owns a fleet services company with the same name and the domain Alphabet.com.
A spokesperson for BMW told the Times the company isn’t planning on selling its domain and that Alphabet was a large part of its business.
With the major restructuring announcement yesterday, Alphabet launched abc.xyz as its domain name. Alphabet, led by Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, is now the parent company of Google, a move designed to separate the core products (search, Gmail, Android, etc.) from its more far reaching projects (Fiber, Calico, X, self-driving cars).
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.