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Alcantara® cracks down on copyright

Al-can't-ara: Incorrectly referring to synthetic suede as Alcantara, such as the fabric in the GLE63 Coupe, could result in a hiding.

Increasing suede alternatives prompt Alcantara to up ante on trademark protection

7 Aug 2015

THE Italian manufacturer of the Alcantara-branded pseudo suede, widely used by many of the world's car-makers, is taking steps to ensure imitators do not get a free ride on its proprietary branding.

The company's lawyers are writing to news outlets asking journalists to correct what it regards as incorrect references to Alcantara in cars fitted with similar man-made upholstery.

Alcantara has increasingly become a generic term for suede-like material in cars, but such a reference in GoAuto drew a retort from the company saying the car in question did not have the 'real' thing.

“The vehicle model at stake is not equipped with our patented and unique material Alcantara,” the company said in a legal letter. “We request you to immediately amend the two articles at stake, by deleting any improper and misleading reference to our material and trademark.”

Alcantara went on to explain that, where correctly referenced, it prefers its material trademark to be referred to using a capital A and the registered trademark symbol.

The man-made fabric was invented in the 1970s by a Japanese research scientist and is manufactured from blend of polyester and polyurethane in a closely guarded process.

Along with many applications including the marine, domestic, fashion and aviation industries, the non-woven material is now popular among car-makers as an alternative to animal hide.

Alcantara offers a durable, lightweight and cost-effective alternative to suede with an appearance that is hard to distinguish from the real thing, but in recent years car-makers have been turning to rival products.

In the case of Mercedes-Benz, the German car-maker has developed its own synthetic suede material dubbed Dinamica, which is used to upholster some high-end models including the flagship AMG range.

With sustainability an increasingly important factor for car-makers, many brands are also turning to leather alternatives, with each manufacturer coining a name for its leatherette material.

Mercedes has Artico, BMW uses Sensatec, Lexus fits NuLux, while Mazda offers Maztex, to name a handful.

While Mercedes and other manufacturers have chosen to keep its suede alternative in-house, some other luxury brands currently offer models dressed in genuine Alcantara, such as Aston Martin, Lamborghini, Abarth, McLaren and BMW.

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