bmw alphabet main page

A key element in Google’s surprise restructuring that was announced yesterday is a newly-created parent company called Alphabet.

Under the new holding entity is of course Google, which will continue to hold household names such as Maps, YouTube, Chrome and Android. But the Internet giant has diversified greatly over the years, and the other divisions include Google X (R&D, driverless cars, etc), Calico (health and well-being), Nest (smart homeware), Fiber (broadband and TV-on-demand) and Google Robotics. All will be units under Alphabet.

But key in www.alphabet.com into your browser (if you can get in, site could be down from unprecedented traffic) and you’ll find that an unrelated business already owns the domain – it’s a business fleet management company, and it’s owned by BMW.

Munich’s Alphabet was established in the UK in 1997 as the fleet management subsidiary of the BMW Group. The “European Business Mobility” provider handed over its 500,000th car in 2013.

google-alphabet-website

Apparently, BMW was not told about Google’s Alphabet and did not receive any offers to buy the Internet domain or the trademark. Not for sale, in any case.

“We are not planning to sell the domain,” said Micaela Sandstede, a BMW spokesperson in Munich who described the website as a “very active” part of Alphabet’s business. She told The New York Times that BMW is examining whether any trademark infringement has taken place.

But the US daily pointed out that just because one company uses a name does not mean another company can’t use it. Trademark infringement occurs if another company’s use could create confusion with consumers, according to the US Patent and Trademark Office. Google is now involved in the auto industry via Android Auto in cars and its research in self-driving vehicles.

So what’s the internet address of Google’s Alphabet? Go Google it la!