BMW has confirmed it has sold the rights to the Rover brand name but the identity of the buyer remains unknown.
The Rover name is still prized despite the firm's collapse
BMW has been in talks with several parties in recent months, thought to include Chinese carmakers Nanjing Automobile and Shanghai Automotive.
Nanjing bought the collapsed MG Rover business last year while Shanghai owns the design rights to two Rover models.
Ford has first option over the brand after it bought Land Rover in 2000, further complicating the situation.
Ford has 90 days in which to decide what to do, but the US carmaker said on Tuesday it had yet to make a decision.
BMW retained the Rover brand name after selling the business in 2000 although it licensed it to the owners, the Phoenix consortium.
But following MG Rover's collapse last year, BMW has been looking to sell the Rover trademark.
Newspaper reports have suggested Shanghai Automotive is the most likely buyer and the deal could be worth up to £11m.
Shanghai Automotive opted not to buy MG Rover outright last year but holds the design rights to the Rover 25 and 75 models and has talked of restarting production in the UK next year.
Closing the deal
Nanjing bought MG Rover assets - including the rights to manufacture the MG sports car - last year.
"We have been in discussions with several parties over the sale of the Rover trademark and we have now closed a deal with one of these parties," a BMW spokesman said.
"But Ford has the right of first refusal which it can exercise during the 90-day period."
In a statement outlining its position, Ford said any owner of the Rover brand name must respect restrictions on its use, relating to vehicles with the same attributes as Land Rover models.