Moto Guzzi California Trademark Renewed

Updated rights to name in the US signal a return of the Italian cruiser.

The Moto Guzzi California appears to be returning, as the company has filed trademark renewals for its use in the US. Moto Guzzi

The Moto Guzzi California name has adorned generations of bikes aimed squarely at the US market dating back to the early 1970s, but since 2020 the name’s been conspicuously absent from the company’s lineup following the demise of the 1,380cc “Big Block”–powered machines in the face of tightening emissions rules. Now a new bike carrying the same branding looks likely following an application to renew Moto Guzzi’s trademark rights on the name in the USA.

There are plenty of companies that endlessly hoard old trademarks or file speculative applications for marks they might or might not use in the future. Triumph tends to keep a grip on unused model names, including Hurricane and Thunderbird, for instance, and BMW has regularly made trademark applications to cover broad arrays of alphanumeric combinations in line with its naming policies just to make sure nobody else snaps them up. Moto Guzzi’s patent firm Piaggio does the same and owns trademark rights on the Moto Guzzi California name in Europe until well into the 2030s. But the new application, filed on 1st March 2024, is in the USA where it’s not as easy to simply trademark brands on the off chance they might be useful in the future.

Here, there must be a definite intention to use a trademark, and while the new application for the Moto Guzzi California trademark is based on the fact that the company already owns the name elsewhere, the application filed by Piaggio is also specific that the company has “a bona fide intention, and is entitled, to use the mark in commerce,” suggesting a new Guzzi California model is part of the company’s plan and leaving a question over how the company will go about it.

The 2015 Moto Guzzi Audace. Moto Guzzi

The last-generation California used the company’s “Big Block” V-twin, although its 1,380cc capacity doesn’t seem vast these days in comparison to some rivals. BMW’s R 18 might be the most obvious competitor, also featuring a longitudinal engine with cylinders poking out on each side, and it’s substantially larger both in engine size and outright dimensions. To compete with that machine, or similarly huge V-twins from Harley-Davidson or Indian, Guzzi would need to go back to the drawing board and develop a completely new engine aimed specifically at the California and perhaps successors to its spin-off models, the Audace and MGX-21.

The 2017 Moto Guzzi MGX-21. Moto Guzzi

But that might not be the direction the company takes. Earlier iterations of the California were much smaller, with 850cc to 1,100cc versions of Guzzi’s signature V-twin and Guzzi’s latest engine—the 1,042cc liquid-cooled DOHC design used in the V100 Mandello and Stelvio—sits well within that bracket. It also slides neatly into current trends for liquid-cooled, smaller-capacity cruisers like Harley’s Nightster and Sportster S, and Indian’s Scout models. Launching the V100 platform, Moto Guzzi promised multiple models across different styles of bike over a five- to six-year period. We’ve seen the sport-touring Mandello and the adventure-style Stelvio (another revived name from Moto Guzzi’s past), so a V100-based California makes a lot of sense going forward.