By on March 5, 2011

Ford and Ferrari finally settled their differences over the alleged trademark infringement by Ferrari. In cases like these, one lawyer usually tells the other: “What does it take for this to go away?” In this case, Ford’s lawyer must have answered: “Lose the F, or lose the case.”  And that’s what happened.

Ford had dragged Ferrari into the U.S. district court in Detroit, after Ferrari had the nerve to call their new Formula One racer the “F150”. Ford feared massive dilution of their F-150 truck mark, and sued.  Ferrari backed off and called the racer “Ferrari F150th Italia,” saying that “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.”

That wasn’t good enough for Ford. The effing F had to go. According to Reuters, Ford spokeswoman Anne Marie Gattari said the new name “still contained F and 150,” and that change “was not acceptable to us.”

Ffffollowing that, Ferrari announced in an article titled “The Horse Whisperer – The name changes but not the sense“:

“In order to avoid the slightest risk of anyone confusing a Formula 1 car with a pick-up truck, for their part, the men from Maranello have decided that the car will lose the F that precedes the number 150 and which stands for Ferrari, as it has done on numerous occasions when it’s come to giving a car a code name, be it for the race track or the road. It appears that this could have caused so much confusion in the minds of the consumer across the Pond that, at the same time as losing the F, the name will be completely Italianised, replacing the English “th” with the equivalent Italian symbol.

Therefore the name will now read as the Ferrari 150° Italia, which should make it clear even to the thickest of people that the name of the car is a tribute to the anniversary of the unification of our country. Let’s hope the matter is now definitely closed and that we can concentrate on more serious matters, namely ensuring that our car that already seems to be pretty good out of the box, becomes a real winner.”

The little circle behind the “150” is the Italian way to say “150th”. The websites “FerrariF150.com” and “Ferrari150.com” are also gone after Ford accused the scuderia of cyber-squatting.

And the winner is? Ferrari. Never in recorded history had a Formula One car so much exposure before it had finished a single race. A Google search for “Ferrari F150” produces 562,000 hits. It may even rub off on another Ferrari. What did Ferrari call their first 4seater, 4WD car? Ferrari Quattro Sede? Ffforget about it. It’s the Ferrari FF. They say it stands for “four-seater, four-wheel drive.” In Italian, fffor sure.

We know better.

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24 Comments on “Ferrari To Ford: F You...”


  • avatar
    gslippy

    I’m with Ford on this one.  They have no more valuable brand than “F-150″, and it doesn’t matter that it won’t be confused for a sports car.  Ford has done every automaker a favor by winning this case.  Hits on ferrari’s web site are meaningless; the real money is with the Ford F-150.
     
    Why Ford didn’t pursue a case against Fiat re: “500″, I don’t know, except mabye because the Ford 500 (“Five Hundred”?) was a dud.
     
    Painful video, by the way.

    • 0 avatar

      Jeez. There was a Fiat 500 in 1936. And a Ford 500 in 1957 – exactly when Fiat relaunched its Fiat 500.  Ford wisely did not pursue this. Fiat could have, but wisely did not. Mere numbers are tough (but not impossible) to trademark anyway. There is always a danger in these challenges: If you lose, you have set a precedent, and your mark can be gang-banged.
      As far as winning, in this one the winner is Ferrari. With zero budget (except for a few hours of legal fees), they received worldwide attention for their racer. I doubt it was intentional, they probably just lucked into it.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Mere numbers are tough (but not impossible) to trademark anyway
       
      True.  That’s why the iconic 80xxx naming scheme of Intel processors became “Pentium”…a move I really hated…

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      To clarify a little: In 1957 there was the Ford FAIRLANE 500. Ford didn’t have a model called 500 until 2005. But, to the point, you have to vigorously defend your trademarks in a world market these days. I’m amazed at how much time is spent defending seemingly banal URLs, a worldwide brand like the F150 is something they need to do.

      It’s unfortunate they couldn’t have worked out a co-branding deal not unlike the Harley Davidson F150, where (I guess) everyone wins. I’m not being sarcastic, I think they could have done something with the idea.

    • 0 avatar

      Exactly. These issues can be resolved amicably by selling (if only for a dollar) a “revocable, non-exclusive, non transferable license” to the trademark. Voila, trademark recognized and protected. True, the law requires that you defend your mark. But it leaves open how to settle your claim.

      An F-150 on the F1 circuit would have been unpaid advertising for Ford. Now it’s unpaid advertising for Ferrari.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      Sorry, Bertel.  Receiving worldwide attention for Ferrari’s racer is akin to receiving worldwide attention for selling the world’s fastest minivan for $6500: http://www.turbo-mopar.com/forums/showthread.php?56941-FOR-SALE-World-s-Fastest-Turbo-Dodge-Caravan-%29

      In the end, it doesn’t amount to much.  Racers need $ponsor$, and sponsors look for performance.  “Attention” won’t easily translate into sponsorship, IMO.  The real winner was the industry and trademark law.

      Ford, for its part, was not so much interested in this particular case, but the future of trademarking in the industry.  The next infraction won’t be so silly.  What if Chevy decides that its next gen EV is called a “Fuzion” in the spirit of “Spark” and “Volt”?  I think Ford would have the right to complain about the audible confuzion that could be generated by such a name for a car, not to mention the tiremaker and RV mfr who use that exact “z” spelling also.

  • avatar
    Tstag

    Now everyone in Italy who loves Ferrari (i.e. most Italian’s). Hates Ford for being anti the unification of Italy….. at least that’s how it might be perceived.
    They should have just let this one go. No one in Europe knows what an F-150 is anyway, and no one really cares. Ford are just a bunch of t*ss*rs.
    And I’m a Mclaren fan.

  • avatar
    mdensch

    Too much ink and html code have been squandered on this non-story already.  Move along folks, there’s nothing to see here.

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    These articles really need to have postscripts saying, “Ford is required by law to defend their copyrights or risk losing them, even if the infringement is stupid. Please read this two hundred times until it sinks in.”

    I’m not sure why they took the second action, though – seems the first would have been enough. But IANAL.

    • 0 avatar
      panzerfaust

      The second action is probably just longstanding bad blood between Ford and Ferrari, going back to the days of Enzo and Henry II.

      PS: as bad as that 458 owner’s day is, he should thank God or whomever he believes in that that Ford pickup only drove up his hood and not into his windsheild.  Or that he didn’t T-bone him right in the extended cab, the bottom of which appears to be about the same height as the 458′s steering wheel. Let that be a lesson, when driving past a liquor store always beware of speeding yahoos in 4×4′s.

    • 0 avatar

      Allow me to nitpick: One is required to defend a Trademark or risk losing it. Copyright violations may be ignored with impunity.

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      Euff, that’s no nitpick. Glaring error on my part – of course this is about trademark, not copyright. :(

  • avatar
    fincar1

    Cross your fingers, then, that no one decides to start up a website called “The Truth About Cats”, regardless of whether the subject matter is felines, Caterpillar tractors, or accelerators of chemical reactions.

    • 0 avatar

      Been there, done that.
       
      Several times.
       
      “The truth about” is not trademarkable. It would bestow a monopoly on the truth. If someone would start a website called “The Truth About Cars”, we would talk to them though.

  • avatar
    MattPete

    (1) I’m with Ford.  They have to defend their trademark.
    (2) The F150, and all of the variations, are horrible names for a Ferrari. Surely they could have done better.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    How about Ferrari sue Ford for the use of the prancing horse? Shouldn’t that settle the matter?

  • avatar

    most of the car business today is bullshit. if GM would listen to me, we would take half the market again and leave the rest for the weak asses to chomp on. but they are too stupid to listen to the master.

  • avatar
    wstansfi

    Anyone notice the hideous chrome b-pillar on the truck in the video? Same as the hideous chrome B-pillar on the latest Navigator. Just ugly design.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    Ford should just let Ferrari be, and hope that their racing season is a success. Not even the dumbest hick will go into a Ferrari dealership looking for a pick up. And, if somebody clueless with $250,000 burning a hole in his pocket wanders into a Ford dealership looking for a race car, they can sell him a six pack of Mustangs.
     
    BTW, without the Blue Oval, and the script FORD, F150 is an extremely weak mark.

  • avatar

    They should amp up the publicity More, not less.
     
    Sanctioned fistfight/boxing match between Al and Luca at the intersection of 42nd & broadway NYC, block off or force-circumnav traffic for an entire day, or in a ring -just- elevated above bus level (14′ ?), “Yo’ Mama” contest at the theatre in Central Park.
    Top Gear-style races/challenges, tractor pulls, chick-magnet tests,
    etc.

  • avatar
    oboylepr

    If Ferrari had any sense they would have avoided any risk of associating a work of art like one of their cars with a turd like like a Ford F150.

  • avatar
    BigOldChryslers

    What did Ferrari call their first 4seater, 4WD car? Ferrari Quattro Sede? Ffforget about it. It’s the Ferrari FF. They say it stands for “four-seater, four-wheel drive.”

    …and if Jensen was still in business, they’d be next in line to take Ferrari to court. The Jensen FF was a 4WD four-seater sports car manufactured from 1966-1971.


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