Suzuki has registered the “Katana” name here in the USA, and if that sounds like familiar news to our regular readers…well, it should.
This is the second time that Suzuki has registered the venerable Katana name with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and there is good reason for that.
But, before we get into what Suzuki is and is not doing with the Katana name, we should first understand what this motorcycle means to long-time motorcyclists, especially in different markets.
This is because the Katana name evokes different ideas to different motorcyclists, because Suzuki has used it in different ways throughout the years, and in different countries.
For some, the Katana is a true-blue sport bike, which made for an interesting alternative to Suzuki’s more track-focused GSX-R line – back when there was considerable overlap between the two segments.
Over time though, the Katana line became more street focused, and culminated with a design that we would call sport-touring by today’s standards.
Standard is the choice word here, back when that was a motorcycle category/segment that meant something, it also happens to be where the original Katana’s most closely fit, before they became more fully faired and muted for street use.
Where does that leave us today with this news about Suzuki’s trademark application?
Suzuki tells us that they see the Katana name possibly working again for the brand’s street-focused sport bikes, using the Katana name as a way to cut through the numbers and letters nomenclature that plagues Japanese motorcycles right now (e.g. GSX1300R vs. Hayabusa)
It remains to be seen whether Suzuki will actually revive the Katana name though, and apply it to its current line of street bikes or bikes it may have in development.
But, it is of note that this second time around with the trademark news applies only to the US market, whereas before we saw filings in the USA and in the European Union.
This shows that the naming strategy is being driven by the needs of Suzuki Motor of America, which has its eyes solely on how the American market bought and sold the Katana line of bikes, and how this iconic name resonates with American motorcyclists.
Will we see a new Katana at a later date – in the USA, or abroad? That remains to be seen, and the impression that I get is that Suzuki is still deciding on that matter.
But, with the lawyers getting spring fever, some appropriate paper was pushed through, so Suzuki would be covered for any contingency and business decision.