BMW has applied for trademarks on the names "Isetta" and "Knutschkugel" according to applications filed with German patent and trademark office.

The names are related, in that Knutschkugel was the nickname associated with the Isetta, BMW's bubble car from the '50s. Although we do not know BMW's intentions, there have been plenty of news reports about the Microlino Karo, which is inspired by the Isetta.

The Karo is a little electric vehicle that Microlino calls "the ideal mix between a motorbike and a car." Again according to the company, the Karo is the perfect size "for 2 adults and 3 beer crates."

The car was the subject of some dispute, though. It seems that Microlino was building the Karo with help from another small German manufacturer called Artega. The former brought action against Microlino for the rights over the design, but in December the two companies settled out of court.

The result, confusingly, is that they'll both make a microcar. Whereas Microlino will make the Karo, Artega will make its own Karo based on an earlier design that it presented in September 2019.

While Microlino has been careful not to call the Karo the Isetta-going so far as to post a blog entry spelling out that it is distinct, though inspired by the BMW-Artega has been a little less careful.

According to German sources, Artega called its Karo project "Knutschkugel 2020" and in the statement regarding its out of court settlement with Microlino, its CEO, Klaus Frers said, "we are working to bring our city car with Artega DNA to market, which resembles closely the historical Isetta."

Media outlets writing about the car have not been shy to point out both cars' resemblance to the original Isetta.

The BMW Isetta was designed by Iso SpA (better known as Iso Rivolta) in the early '50s and built under license in a number of countries. Among them was BMW, which fitted its own 247 cc motor (or later a 298 cc motor). That helped it become the best-selling single-cylinder car in the world when production ran out in 1962.