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EXCLUSIVE: How the Red Cross is stopping Chevrolet Corvette coming to Australia

By Barry Park, 23 Jul 2015 News

EXCLUSIVE: How the Red Cross is stopping Chevrolet Corvette coming to Australia

Defence minister Kevin Andrews could decide the fate of the Corvette in Australia as battle rages over GM’s latest winged badge design

GENERAL Motors is locked in a drawn-out battle with Australia’s intellectual property police as it struggles to fit its latest Corvette badge to a right-hand-drive version of the low-slung two-door muscle car.

A Wheels investigation has revealed that GM needs to obtain permission from Australia’s defence minister, Kevin Andrews, to sell the Corvette here.

The problem lies in a 2014 redesign of the Corvette badge, and decades-old laws designed to protect one of the most iconic symbols of the nation’s wartime history – the Red Cross.

Chevrolet Corvette

Documents obtained by Wheels show GM has been trying to trademark a new, highly stylised version of the Corvette badge that sits on the seventh-generation muscle car, featuring a chequered flag on one side and the Chevrolet bowtie (and a fleur-de-lis) on the other.

However, GM’s application has been rejected on four separate occasions because the trademark watchdog believes the slanted Chevrolet bowtie looks too much like the Red Cross symbol, which is protected in Australia under the Geneva Conventions Act 1957. 

Chevrolet Corvette

According to the legislation, GM will need the defence minister’s permission to use the badge on the $150K-plus Corvette or face heavy fines.

The badge features throughout the car – the front, rear, steering wheel, kickplates, wheels, gearshift, even the touchscreen – so replacing them for Australia would likely be out of the question.

Chevrolet Corvette

Chevrolet’s performance hero is due on sale here in 2018, rounding out a fleet of models set to replace the locally made HSV range once Australian manufacturing winds down in 2017.

According to IP Australia, GM’s fight to have the Corvette badge trademarked in Australia is “at an impasse”, with the US carmaker fast running out of time before its application is officially refused. The application is scheduled for a hearing before the trademarks watchdog.

Chevrolet Corvette

Holden declined to comment, saying only that “names and logos are constantly trademarked by General Motors in markets around the world for a variety of reasons”. Chevrolet did not return emails.

Meanwhile, an Australian Defence Force spokesman said it was unable to disclose if it had been approached by GM seeking an exemption for the Corvette logo.