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Bajaj Auto Purchases Intellectual Property Rights of American Motorcycle Brand Excelsior-Henderson

Image used for representation. (Photo: Manav Sinha/News18.com)

Image used for representation. (Photo: Manav Sinha/News18.com)

The Excelsior-Henderson company’s roots can be traced back to 1876 when it was known as the Excelsior Supply Company that manufactured cycles and associated parts. Henderson started their operations in 1911 and mainly manufactured inline-four engines.

Bajaj Auto has filed for a second trademark for Excelsior-Henderson name. They have filed the trademark with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) under the clothing category which could be used for riding apparel and gears. It is not the first time that the Indian two-wheeler giant has filed for a trademark for the American brand. In 2018, they had filed under the motorcycle design class which includes vehicles, spare parts and service.

The Excelsior-Henderson company’s roots can be traced back to 1876 when it was known as the Excelsior Supply Company that manufactured cycles and associated parts. Henderson started their operations in 1911 and mainly manufactured inline-four engines. The two firms were acquired by bicycle firm Schwinn in 1917 and were later merged into Excelsior-Henderson. The new Chicago based company started making motorcycles and in 1912, the Excelsior became the world’s first motorcycle to be officially timed at 160 kmph (100 mph). However, owing to the economic turmoil induced by the Great Depression, Schwinn decided to shut it down in 1931. The company was again revived back to life after several decades in 1993 by Hanlon Manufacturing Company in Minnesota.

The Henderson-Excelsior marque produced a 1,386cc, four-stroke, air-cooled, twin-cylinder engine motorcycle called the Super X. Unfortunately, only 1,950 units of the Super X were sold, and the company soon ceased production. Despite remaining in existence until 2018, the company was finally put up for action, but failed to get any buyers until now.

Even though the American brand ceased to exist as an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), the company still owns intellectual properties. In 2018, Bajaj filed a trademark for the Excelsior-Henderson name under the motorcycles design class and more recently on December 15 this year, they filed for a second trademark with the EUIPO, in the clothing class. However, there has been no official statement on Bajaj reviving the Excelsior-Henderson name so far.

Bajaj is not the only manufacturer to take up a classic motorcycle brand as a gateway into international markets. Two other Indian two-wheeler OEM’s have also applied similar strategies like Excelsior-Henderson. TVS Motor Company recently acquired British motorcycle manufacturer Norton, while Hero Motor Corp stepped-in to save Harley-Davidson from the clutches of extinction in India.

These trademark filings may eventually lead to the revival of the Excelsior-Henderson name and could possibly see the production of larger capacity cruisers.

first published:December 28, 2020, 18:23 IST
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