The Honda Super Cub is a rolling definition of an iconic motorcycle. The centerpiece to the famous “You Meet the Nicest People on a Honda” ad from the 1960’s, the Super Cub has gone on to be the best selling motorcycle in the world, with Honda recording its 60 millionth sale back in 2008…just three years after it notched its 50 millionth sale to the company’s corporate sales belt.
Perhaps getting the recognition it finally deserves, the Honda Super Cub is the first vehicle to receive a three-dimensional trademark in its home country of Japan. Three-dimensional trademarks are an uncommon thing in the intellectual property realm, and are virtually unheard of in the consumer product space, making the news that much more special for the Super Cub.
A hot ticket item in emerging markets, Honda has 15 production facilities for the Super Cub in 14 different countries. Unsurprisingly, the list of these markets focuses on the emerging markets, with Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Brazil, China, and Nigeria all making the list of countries that produce the venerable scooter.
Today’s news though has as much to do with the popularity of the Super Cub’s design, as it does with Honda looking to protect itself from knock-off artists who would like to emulate the Super Cub’s shape.
An issue rife in emerging markets, Honda’s push to get a three-dimensional trademark in Japan is the first step in enforcing the company’s intellectual property rights in foreign lands, many of whom are WIPO signatories, and thus would be bound to honor Japan’s IP laws.
It’s a move we have seen played out in Italy, where the Guardia di Finanza has a particular affinity towards Chinese scooters that may or may not borrow heavily from the classic lines of Vespa.
Much can be said about whether Italy’s financial guard, like the Japanese trademark office, is simply catering to the whims of a powerful domestic industrial player, but business is business, in both Italy and Japan.
That being said, we tip our hat to the venerable Honda Super Cub, may tens of millions more of its ilk roam the city streets worldwide. As for the budget knock-off builders, you have been officially put on notice.