You think only China has a total disregard for intellectual property? Ford filed a trademark infringement suit on Wednesday against a foreign carmaker. The only thing this carmaker has in common with China is their love for the red color. Ford sued Ferrari for blatantly stealing the name of the world’s best selling vehicle, the F-150.
Ferrari named its 2011 Formula 1 racing car the “F150.” And Ferrari’s F150 logo bears striking resemblance to the one on Ford’s F-150 pickup truck, Ford said in a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit.
Ford alleges that “Ferrari has misappropriated the F-150 trademark in naming its new racing vehicle the ‘F150’ in order to capitalize on and profit from the substantial goodwill that Ford has developed in the F-150 trademark.”
Yes, Ford says that Ferrari’s Formula 1 car poses as one of their trucks. The cornerstone of all trademark litigation is customer confusion and the resulting dilution of the trademark. To win, Ford needs to make the case that customers are duped into thinking that this Formula 1 car has something to do with a F-150 pickup.
According to Reuters, “Ford is asking the court to bar Ferrari from using the name. The automaker is also seeking unspecified damages, including damages of $100,000 under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act.”
Fiat owns 85 percent stake in Ferrari. Fiat also is involved with Ford’s crosstown colleagues at Chrysler. According to the complaint, Ford and Ferrari have a “legendary history as rivals in auto racing.”
The cybersquatting stems from a website Ferrari set up: http://www.ferrarif150.com.
There are two defenses against trademark infringement: Fair use and parody. Ferrari will most likely go the fair use route. “The choice of name stems from Ferrari’s desire to pay tribute to this year’s one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Unification of Italy,” Ferrari says in a statement on the website. F1 + 150 = F150, capisce?
If that doesn’t work, they can always try parody. “Your honor, our drivers say, it drives like a truck. So we called it F150. Isn’t that funny?”