Steve at The Scooter Scoop was trolling the patent sites again, and learned that our friends at Piaggio & C. S.p.A. are hoping to protect the phrase “Vintage Vespa” as a service mark. Piaggio returned to America a decade ago and alienated their entire customer base with a schload of legal action against the small handful of shops and parts distributors that kept the Vespa brand name alive in their absence. A handful ended up paying big money to be certified as a “Vintage Vespa Restoration Center,” a designation which carried little weight and was soon forgotten. At the same time, Piaggio offered (for sale!) a catalog of vintage parts that they seemed unable to supply to their dealers in any sort of timely fashion. In the ten years since then, most of the few truly successful Vespa dealerships are back in the hands of scooter enthusiasts, including several that Piaggio tried to shut down back in ’99 in favor of snooty luxury car dealerships and boutiques. But many of the best vintage scooter repair shops still want nothing to do with Grande Azzuro.
If the request becomes reality, how can an unsanctioned repair shop (many of which have been in business much longer than PiaggioUSA) attract customers? “We fix postwar Italian monocoque 4-speed rotary-valve steel-bodied 2-stroke motorscooters” just doesn’t flow off the tongue. Our suggestion? Simply offer vintage Piaggio parts and service.”