Harry here. We’ve gotten a lot of questions about the new trade dress requirements in California and even if you’re not in CA, it’s likely that you have similar policies in your state or they may be coming soon. Today, RSG senior contributor Christian Perea examines these new regulations and explains how to deal with them while driving around, at the airports and when trying to find passengers.
On June 27th, new California Public Utilities Commission regulations on trade dress went into effect. Drivers must now display trade dress in both the front and back windshields of their cars while driving for a TNC. Many of us are already used to having our trade dress displayed up front, but adding it in the back created a little bit of confusion among drivers around window tint or having both trade dresses (Uber and Lyft) displayed simultaneously.
This specific requirement only applies to California for now, but it’s likely similar rules are already in place (or coming) to your state. According to the new California regulation, your trade dress should be displayed on the lower right hand side of your passenger windshield. For the rear, the trade dress should also be displayed on the passenger side in the lower corner of your rear window. Both Lyft and Uber have mailed new trade dress placards to all of their drivers in California.
Related: Uber CPUC Trade Dress Training Video
What is Uber’s New Trade Dress?
With the logo change comes new trade dress. Uber has retired the Uber “U” logo that we are all familiar with and replaced it with an “atom” vinyl sticker. The sticker should be displayed to look like a backwards “C” from the perspective of anyone looking at your car from the outside. See above for an example. The placards are semi sticky and can be applied or removed from your windshield quickly.
Lyft’s Trade Dress
Lyft has maintained the same trade dress with the exception of sending vinyl-like placards that can quickly be applied or removed. You must have this displayed. The Glowstache will not qualify as your Trade Dress alone.
What Happens if I Don’t Put These Ugly Stickers on My Car?
In California, it is a $1,000 ticket. And your passengers may have trouble finding you.
Wow, that’s a lot of money!
Yes. It is. Which is why you should be compliant. However, in my 2 years of driving I have actually never heard of anybody getting this ticket. You are more likely to get a ticket for having a glowstache glowin’ on your dash. That doesn’t mean you should try to be the “first” person I know to get a ticket. So put your trade dress on!
Trade Dress Can Help Your Passengers Identify You
These regulations are sort of a hassle but they do actually help passengers spot your car, especially when you have a million black Prii (yes) roaming the streets. If you’re looking to stand out from the crowd though, you can invest in light up Uber signs too. These will definitely help your pax find you at night and especially when picking up from crowded areas. They also have light up Lyft signs too.
Just make sure that you turn them off while you’re driving since some states can ticket you for that.
Can I Have Uber and Lyft Trade Dress Displayed at the Same Time?
Yes. Uber and Lyft will likely never tell you it’s okay because they want you to drive ONLY for them. They spend tens of millions of dollars trying to convince you to be monogamous with them. But the law only requires display of trade dress for the company you are operating for. So if you are picking up Uber passengers, then have your Uber trade dress displayed. Same goes for Lyft.
For more tips on driving for Uber and Lyft at the same time, check out our article!
It’s pretty common these days to see both trade dress displayed simultaneously, especially in places like SF and LA where both services are busy. And even if you get most of your rides on Uber, it’s a good idea to sign up with Lyft as a back-up in case, as you know the Uber app goes down worldwide like it did last night 🙂
The Exception: LAX, SAN (and Maybe SFO) Airports
Per Uber’s website:
There are unique trade dress requirements at LAX and SAN. These two airports prohibit dual trade dress. This means that if you are on an Uber trip, you may only display the Uber trade dress. Please make sure you are only displaying an Uber trade dress on your front and rear windshield when you are completing an Uber trip. Having two different trade dresses can result in a fine.
So if you plan to do airport pickups or drop-offs, you may have to quickly peel the vinyl placard off of the window for the other company. Certain airports have stipulated in their agreement that only one company at a time can be displayed and that it must be the company you are doing a ride for.
When you pick up a rider heading to the airport, you can quickly remove any other company’s trade dress from the rear when you load their luggage into the back of your car. And since airport cops have nothing to actually do but hand out tickets and enforce these regulations, I suggest only displaying one trade dress at a time at ALL airports. Just to be safe.
Related: Uber Portal for Airport Regulations
When Will I Get My New Trade Dress?
According to Uber, you will be mailed new trade dress. If you don’t receive the new trade dress, you can stop by in person office hours or any of their Greenlight locations (I have no idea what Greenlight locations are either but apparently you can pick up trade dress there). If all else fails, reach out to [email protected].
What if I Have Rear Window Tint?
When I first heard about these new regulations, this was the first thing that came to mind since I have limo tint on the back window of my car. I’m not alone either, since many drivers have this too. I wasn’t excited at the idea of taping it to the outside of my car or cutting out a hole in my tint.
So I asked Lyft for help via Twitter DM (one of our top ways to contact Lyft for help), and they confirmed that the trade dress only needs to be displayed in the rear window to be compliant.
So far on the roads, I’ve also seen most drivers with window tint doing the same thing, and I haven’t heard of anyone getting in trouble for it.
What if I’m Afraid People Will Honk/Throw Rocks at Me Once They See the Sticker for Uber/Lyft?
You can prevent this by not impeding traffic or pretending that simply flipping on your hazard lights magically gives you diplomatic immunity. In other words, be nice.
The rear trade dress also helps other vehicles know that you are more likely to stop to pickup a passenger. This assumes people will tend to avoid driving behind you because of this. They don’t want to get stuck behind you if you suddenly pickup or drop-off a passenger.
Is This Good or Bad?
These new regulations actually aren’t that much different from the old way of displaying trade dress. Just make sure to heed all the local and especially airport rules in your state and you should be fine. If you’re not sure of the latest rules, you can reach out to Uber here or Lyft here.
It can be a hassle following all these rules and regulations, but we’re still not sure who’s going to actually enforce this. If drivers do end up getting ticketed though for whatever reason, we will make sure to keep you guys updated!
Readers, what do you think of the new trade dress rules and have they impacted you yet?
-Christian @ RSG
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