If you look at Subaru’s website, you’ll notice something. They have lots of information on the site about the kind of engines they produce— horizontally-opposed ones. They and Porsche are the only major automakers still making flat engines like this, and it’s great Subaru makes a big point about it. Hell, they’re my favorite kind of engine!
They’re nicknamed “boxer” engines because the back-and-forth motion of the pistons looks sort of like a boxer’s fists. And this nickname has been around a really long time. The first name for this type of engine was a “contra” engine, as Karl Benz called the one he built in 1897. Tatra was using them extensively in cars in the teens and ’20s, BMW used them in motorcycles in this period as well, and by the time Porsche was looking into them for his People’s Car project, they were already commonly known as “boxers.”
And it’s not just “SUBARU BOXER®” that they’ve trademarked— it’s BOXER® alone, as well. Just look at the menu on their site:
In short, people have been calling these engines “boxers” long before Subaru ever built one. In fact, Subaru’s first boxer, the EA-52, didn’t come around until 1966. So how is it Subaru has the nickname trademarked?
Probably just because they actually decided to do it. You can readily get a trademark on common words and phrases (think about “Apple”) but it seems to me that a specific nickname like this, that they didn’t even come up with, shouldn’t be trademarkable.
Porsche, don’t you have a problem with this? VW, even if you don’t make these anymore? Someone?