The return of Alfa Romeo to the key US market has moved a step closer with the registering of the 4C brand with the US Patent and Trademark office earlier this month, according to a local report.

The Detroit Free Press said the 4C is a compact sports car scheduled to go into production in Italy next year; it’s been seen in concept form so far and a production version is expected to make its debut at next year’s Geneva show.

Alfa Romeo quit the US market about 20 years ago but, with Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Chrysler now sharing platforms, building cars in the US will make a return easier.

The 4C is based on the Dodge Dart platform and is expected to go on sale in the US from 2014, according to the ‘Freep‘. 

“The return of Alfa in the US is critical for the group, as a global player needs to have an upscale brand in a major market such as North America,” Jeff Schuster, LMC’s senior vice president of forecasting, told the newspaper. “This is a real sign Alfa will come back to US.”