Nissan is one of a handful of automakers that tweaked its logo in just the last few years; the former silvery 3D icon from the 1990s transitioned into a sleeker, simpler badge. But now a new Nissan logo has popped up in recent trademark filings, though it’s unclear exactly what it could be used for.

After digging into trademark databases, we uncovered that Nissan has filed a patent for this simple five-line logo design in both the European Union and Australia earlier this month. There's no filing in the US, though. It looks nothing like the current Nissan wordmark and uses two vertical lines on the left flanked by three horizontal lines on the right.

First uncovered by investor Reilly Brennan on Twitter, he points out that the subtle mark pays tribute to Nissan's racing heritage as the number 23 is commonly used by the automaker’s motorsports teams. There’s also a more literal translation: "NI" means two in Japanese, and the three horizontal lines are the symbol for the number three (sometimes translated to "SAN").

 

It's unclear, though, exactly how Nissan plans to use this new logo – if at all. The relatively recent update of its current logo suggests this won't be a full-on replacement to the Nissan badge, but rather a secondary mark. It could potentially be used on sporty Nissan variants, for a new performance arm (we're just speculating here), or even regionally based on where the trademarks were filed.

We reached out to a spokesperson at Nissan USA, but even they are unaware of the new logo:

"I've never seen that logo – to my knowledge it is not a new emblem for Nissan," they stated.

Until Nissan makes an official announcement about this trademark, we're left wondering exactly what this unique five-line look could be used for.