Even though many automakers have gone overboard with the size of their front grilles, we'd argue it's still easy to distinguish an Audi with its singleframe design from BMW's inflated kidneys. The same can be said about Lexus' spindle grille, but IP Australia sees things differently. Toyota's luxury division attempted to register the design Down Under, only to have its application rejected.
Australian magazine Carsales cites the bureau’s Hearing Officer saying the spindle grille is not distinctive enough to allow Lexus to trademark the design. The Japanese automaker made the point about how the design doesn’t bring a functional benefit for the vehicles and it’s been created purely for the sake of style as an all-original design.
2022 Lexus LX 600
IP Australia's Hearing Officer believes the spindle grille serves both functional and visual purposes, adding that the use of an "L" badge is simply not enough to allow Lexus to claim ownership of the design.
"Any person or company can apply for registration of a trademark. There are, however, grounds for rejecting some of those applications, which is what has happened here. The ground that was used to reject this application relates to whether what has been applied for can be used to tell apart the goods of a particular trader from the goods of other traders."
Through its global design head Koichi Suga, Lexus recently admitted some customers are finding the grille polarizing. To that end, the way it looks will evolve in future models. We're already seeing changes, starting with the RZ while the sedan and sports car electric concepts previewed a while ago came only with a slim opening.
The rise of EVs won't necessarily spell the end of conventional grilles as some automakers have pledged to keep them in the zero-emissions era. Granted, those won't be actual grilles but rather purely for aesthetic purposes to preserve a brand's corporate identity intact.