2012 Chevrolet Caprice PPV - Detective's package - front three-quarter view

The 1961 Impala SS inaugurated the SS trim line to the brand, and its SS cars have found more than a million homes since – examples like this 1966 model helping the way. Turns out, though, that General Motors just got around to patenting the designator SS on April 13, 2012. Since the SS descriptor has historically indicated a model variant or trim level, distinctions that apparently don't normally warrant trademark protection, the questions are why now and what for?

The evidence would seem to lead to this being a model designator, not just a trim, and there have been rumors that a civilian version of the police-only Caprice will hit the market and simply be called SS. But if that's the case, what would the hotter Impala prototype we've seen in spy shots be named, and what – if anything – would happen to the SS trim available on other Chevy models?

Click the image below for a look at the patent application, and we'll be looking forward to finding out what is going to go where.