Saab's new Asian owners will have to replace the iconic logo that adorns the Swedish-built autos after truck maker Scania said Thursday it would not cede the rights.
Scania shares the image of the red griffon wearing a golden crown on a blue background with Saab Automobile and the defence company Saab, which were part of a single group until 1990.
The griffon is a mythological creature that is part eagle and part lion, and is the emblem of Scania, Sweden's southernmost province.
Saab Automobile, which went bankrupt last year, got a new lease on life in June when Chinese and Japanese investors were selected by an administrator to take over the carmaker for an undisclosed sum.
Hong Kong-based alternative energy specialist National Modern Energy Holdings and Japanese investment firm Sun Investment LLC said they plan to adapt Saab's 9-3 model to make an electric vehicle for the Chinese market.
But Scania said Thursday it would not let the griffon adorn any non-Swedish vehicles.
"Scania doesn't want to allow the buyer to use the griffon symbol which is intimately tied to Scania," spokesman Hans Aake Danielsson told AFP.
"Scania has used this logo since 1911 ... and we don't want our symbol in a manner that could damage our brand," he added.
Moreover cars produced by the resurrected Saab automaker "won't be Swedish any longer," Danielsson stressed.
The aerospace company was less categorical however.
"We are currently in the midst of a dialogue (on the use of the Saab name) and it is still too early to say what the conclusions will be," said Sebastian Carlsson.
He is a spokesman for the Saab unit that builds combat jets, commercial aviation and defence systems and civil security networks.
Any decision about the logo and the name must be approved by all three of the group's former units.
Saab Automobile struggled for years before the company filed for bankruptcy.
US automaker General Motors, which owned Saab's auto unit for 10 years, sold it in 2010 to the tiny sports car maker Spyker.
The Dutch company soon ran into cash problems but its efforts to bring in Chinese investors was thrwarted by GM failing to give up intellectual property rights to key technologies.