The ‘Matchless’ Trademark
Lot 554
The ‘Matchless’ Trademark
Sold for £45,500 (US$ 76,477) inc. premium
Lot Details
The ‘Matchless’ Trademark
One of the British motorcycle industry’s most famous marques, Matchless is revered by enthusiasts everywhere as winner of the very first Isle of Man TT in 1907, when Charlie Collier rode one of the firm’s single-cylinder models to a famous victory.

Unlike the vast majority of Britain’s motorcycle manufacturers, which were located in the Birmingham and Coventry areas, Matchless was based in Plumstead, South London. The name ‘Matchless’ first appeared in the 1890s on cycles manufactured by H H Collier, whose sons Charlie and Harry would later join him in the business. The firm’s first - experimental - motorcycle appeared in 1899 and its first production model in 1902. These early Matchlesses were JAP-powered, but in 1912 the firm introduced the first of its own designs.

Matchless’s period of road-race glory did not last beyond WWI, by which time Charlie and his brother Harry had won the TT three times. Over the succeeding decades, Matchless concentrated on building a range of dependable, value-for-money machines, a policy that placed it on a sound financial footing. The acquisition of AJS in 1931 saw the company reformed as Associated Motor Cycles, with Francis-Barnett, James and Norton joining the Group after WWII. On the competition side, Matchless enjoyed a higher profile in off-road sport than hitherto, Dave Curtis winning the British Moto-Cross Championship in 1958, while Artie Ratcliffe emerged victorious in the arduous Scottish Six Days Trial in 1950 and 1954.

Nevertheless, by the mid-1960s AMC was in financial difficulty and was taken over in 1966 by Manganese Bronze Holdings, who reorganised the company as Norton Villiers, concentrating roadster production on a single model – the Norton Commando. ‘Matchless’ would not appear on another new motorcycle until 1987, when Les Harris, who was also manufacturing the Triumph Bonneville under license, introduced a handsome Rotax-engined single using the famous name.

On offer today are the UK and EU rights to the following trademarks:

MATCHLESS word and device (EU)
Winged device (EU)
MATCHLESS word and device (UK)
MATCHLESS word (UK)
MATCHLESS LONDON words and device (UK)
MATCHLESS device (UK)
Winged M device (UK)

SPECIAL CONDITIONS RELATING TO THE SALE OF THIS LOT MAY BE OBTAINED FROM BONHAMS PRIOR TO THE SALE, AND MAY BE VIEWED AT THE SALE. PROSPECTIVE BUYERS ARE ADVISED TO ENSURE THAT THEY HAVE READ AND UNDERSTOOD THESE CONDITIONS PRIOR TO BIDDING.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note, VAT at 17.5% will apply to the Hammer Price and Buyers Premium for this lot. The vendor of the lot has not retained the US and Canadian marks and did not renew them when they expired on the 26th March. We have also been informed by the vendor that should the successful purchaser wish to register the US or Canada Trademarks they would need to establish prior use or right to use. Ownership of the UK and EU trademarks should establish prior use, however the right would be stronger if actually used on a manufactured product or for a company (eg Matchless Motorcycles Ltd). The original core Matchless trademarks with impeccable lineage is on offer today. There are no conflicting/contested rights to the trademarks in any territories and the purchaser will have the right to extend the registrations to any territory in which it is possible to register trademarks. As far as we know, the trademarks have never been registered in, for example, Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand or Russia for that matter, but we no reason why the purchaser should not extend the core registrations to these territories.
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