Do the Khuranas own the Lambretta name?

In my post about Khurana’s “new” Lambrettas last week, I said:

The Khuranas are selling bikes from a slightly-lower-tier maker, using one of the most beloved names in scooterdom. They almost certainly have no global rights to the Lambretta name, and even the American rights are questionable. (Note the logo on the bikes and the Lambretta USA site reads “Lambretta International,� and the site reads “Official Factory Web Site of Lambretta,� which seems to be tempting international legal doom).

Even though I mentioned the promise of a future bike from Scooters India Limited (SIL), it never occurred to me that the Khurana family may have actually struck a deal for the name with SIL (who apparently DO own the international trademark). According to a few sources, that is indeed the case. With that news, the picture becomes a little clearer, if not any happier.

So it appears that the Khuranas, after abandoning the CMSI/PM Tuning project because of doubts about the name, decided that a good name was worth more than a good product, and set off to work out a deal with SIL, who is still in business producing “Vikram”-branded three-wheelers, but no longer producing Lambretta scooters. Presumably, the Khuranas got SIL excited about the U.S. scooter boom and convinced them that getting a Lambretta scooter back on the market (even one not produced by SIL) would pave the way for the rebirth of the SIL Lambretta (I imagine a reasonable amount of money changed hands as well, and/or a large percentage of Adly sales profits were promised.)

This would explain the boast “Official Factory Web Site of Lambretta,â€? and also explain the promise(again, we’ll believe it when we see it) of an Indian-built ‘real’ Lambretta down the road. While there may still be a battle over the name, it appears they have a pretty legitimate claim and would be likely to come out on top. While Lambretta Clothing and Denny Kunman (if he’s still around) seem to own the name in England, they appear to be licensing the name from SIL as well, meaning any complaints they have with the Khuranas’ use of the name are already settled, or would have to be taken up with SIL.

The name is, sadly, very likely being used legally, though that still doesn’t resolve the fact that they’re using it to sell a rebadged, unimpressive scooter that’s already available on the market. Not illegal, but still depressing. Even if the best-case scenario comes true (SIL starts making high-quality, GP-styled, mustard-colored, tastefully-striped, metal-bodied Lambrettas, dare to dream that they’re 2-strokes with manual transmissions), they’re going to sit on showroom floors with plastic twist-and-gos bearing the same name. Even Piaggio knows better than to call their entry-level discount 50cc scooters “Vespas.” It’s still bad news for the Lambretta name, and as many have pointed out, it’s unclear who’s going to pay a premium (no pricing info has been released, but why use the name “Lambretta” if you’re selling it cheap?) for a Lambretta-badged Taiwanese/Chinese scooter in a market full of better-designed and more reasonably-priced Taiwanese scooters.

6 thoughts on “Do the Khuranas own the Lambretta name?”

  1. the vin tag on the one I saw said “manufactured for Lambretta LLC” . Whatever that will mean for the future, who knows.

  2. What would be interesting would be if SIL engineered a modern 4 stroke into the GP platform. I’m sure the folks at PM are top notch at making custom creations but sometimes brute force developing world production could do the trick for pulling something like that off in a realistic price range. I get this idea from the Indian claims of the ability to compete with the OLPC project at a fraction of the already low price for the OLPC (PM being analogous to Negroponte). Yes, I only read two blogs. 2SB and Gizmodo.

  3. Man these are some longs posts Beeb! Highest 2SB word count ever. I like brookes idea.

  4. I understand that just as the last SIL Lambretta’s left the factory in the late 90’s, Piaggio were in talks with SIL about taking over the Lambretta name. They actually bought a couple of the last GP’s to create prototypes with the idea of producing a four-stroke automatic housed in a GP body, but couldn’t make the numbers work, and abandoned the project.

  5. I’m with Brooke too. The only hope for anything resembling an old-school Lambretta would be to stuff a four-stroke engine in an old body. Sadly, there’s no way a standard piston-ported Lambretta engine would pass US EPA, let alone California ARB. The Stella managed US EPA because they started with an already clearner-burning 2-stroke and made improvements like reed values and a Cat. I doubt a catalytic converter alone on a Lambretta engine would come close to meeting emission standards.

    It’s worth noting (even though Bryan mentioned it earlier) that CMSI is still working away on their L-Series. CMSI should have a booth at Amerivespa Seattle if anyone wants to talk with them about the current status of their project.

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