Update 2: Ford Sues Ferrari Over F150 Name

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Update 2: Feb-10-2011 7:17am

Ferrari appears to have changed its mind about the name of its latest F1 race car after threat of a lawsuit yesterday by Ford.

The Ferrari F150 is now being referred to as the Ferrari F150th Italia on a Ferrari website.

A statement from Ferrari read: "On the subject of the name of the new Ferrari Formula 1 car, the Maranello company wishes to point out that it has sent a letter of reply to Ford, underlining the fact that the F150 designation (used as the abbreviated version of the complete name, which is Ferrari F150th Italia) never has, nor ever will be used as the name of a commercially available product – indeed there will definitely not be a production run of single-seaters...Ferrari has decided to ensure that in all areas of operation, the abbreviated version will be replaced at all times with the full version, Ferrari F150 th Italia."

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Ford filed a lawsuit Wednesday asking a court for an injunction against Ferrari over the use of the F150 name for Ferrari's latest Formula 1 racecar, the automaker said.

"F-150® is an established and important Ford trademark and the name of the best-seller in Ford’s F-Series, America’s best-selling trucks for 34 years and best-selling vehicles for 29 years," Ford said in a statement Wednesday. "Through extensive sales and advertising and exclusive use, Ford has earned invaluable goodwill in the F-150® trademark. That hard-won goodwill is seriously threatened by Ferrari’s adoption of 'F150'."

Indeed, Ford claims, "when Ferrari announced the name of its race car as 'F150', Ford asked Ferrari to change the name. Ferrari did not respond in a timely manner, leaving Ford no choice but to take legal action to protect its important brand and trademark rights," the automaker said in a statement this afternoon.

The Italian sports car maker chose the F150 name to pay tribute to this year's 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy, but it's also the well-known and longtime name of Ford's half-ton pickup truck, ­ the best-selling vehicle in Ford's U.S. lineup.

We've asked Ferrari for comment, but have not yet heard back.

Editor's note: We've updated this post to reflect the filing of the lawsuit.

Comments

A lot of you are talking about how it would be impossible for someone to confuse the two, and that's true enough, but what happens if Ford decides it wants to get into a sponsorship deal with F1, or even field a car and use it to advertise their product line? Then Ferrari is going to claim rights to the name, and Ford damn sure isn't going to change the name of the F150.

In the corporate world there's no good reason to not vigorously defend trademarks. You never know what the future will bring.

@Jordan L I agree with you, it is a storm in a Teacup and people will see it as stupid, it does give Ford Publicity but in a pretty negative light.

From :http://www.thedomains.com/2011/02/09/a-cybersquatter-ford-sues-ferrari-over-its-registration-of-ferrarif150-com-but-ford-doesnt-even-own-f150-com-or-fordf150-com/comment-page-1/

" Ford filed suit again Ferrari over the use of the “F150″ name.

Ferrari’s now has a 2011 car by the same name.

Ford is suing Ferrari over its registration of the ferrariF150.com domain name, which it claims goes against the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act and is seeking.$100,000 in damages.

The lawsuit claims Ford has suffered irreparable harm to its F-150 brand and is claiming unspecified damages as well as banning the use of the name on any Ferrari merchandise sold in the U.S.

Of course Ford doesn’t even own the domain name F150.com, which is a parked page under privacy at a Bahamian registrar using HitFarm servers.

Nor does Ford own FordF150.com, which belongs to and used as a Enthusiast site.

Ford doesn’t even own the domain name FordF150.com; that domain appears to be privacy at the same Bahamian registrar which also uses HitFarm servers that owns F150.com

According to the suit Ferrari is given Ford a bad name by using the same F150 that Ford has been using for its truck line.

A Ferrari sports car and a Ford truck.

Yes I can see how that can be very confusing to a consumer.

Looks like another case of an overreaching trademark holder going after a pretty generic term, one in which they seemly failed to protect their “brand”

At least this time the trademark holders are “eating their own”

It has happened several times before; in 1963, the Porsche 911 was originally designated the 901 but forced to change that because of Peugeot. I don't think that many people were happy when Pontiac called their great goat GTO and then journalists even conducted a drag race... :)
Of course in this case, no one will be confused between a pickup truck (an excellent one, mind you!) and an F1 car (also an excellent one). I bet that in Ferrari they does't even know that there is such a thing Ford F150 and now they have been comletley surprized, and for their dismay it exists for more than 30 years! After all, when Ferrari need to tow/haul something they use IVECO light and heavy trucks...

Robert,
Both Ford and Fiat started using the 500 at the same time in 1957 (Fairlane 500 and Fiat 500.)

In 05, it was Five Hundred, not 500. It was ruled a while ago that you couldn't trademark a number, which is why AMD and Intel both made "486" chips, and Intel changed to "Pentium" on the next series, because they couldn't get trademark on any of the #86 names.

Like Mike said, it's all about the lawyers and defending a trademark. If Ford let Ferrari get away with making an F150, then Toyota would come out with a Tundra F150 model next year and argue they could call it that, because they let another automaker make an F150 and didn't object, so it must be OK.

@Hoser the difference is those disputes were damages over the sale of goods with similar or identical names . The Ferrari is not being sold. You are right you cannot trademark a number, so the 150 of F150 cannot be trademarked.Should be a fun time in the courts for both parties.

Ford has to defend its trademark here. And no, they shouldn't be grateful. And no, a dash isn't materially different.

Protecting a trademark is complicated business. If you don't actively protect it here, an eventual lawsuit might cite that you let it slip in this case.

You need to protect your trademark at all times for future defenses to be valid. Look at Jeep that Mike mentioned. They lost exclusive right to the 7 slot grill by not defending it more vigorously.

There are hundreds of examples where companies didn't defend their trademark in one case and lost their right to it... which is also why you hear about Ford cracking down on fan blogs that use the logos out of license, or Disney coming down on community groups that use their images without permission.

@Lou, Oh boohoo really? Cry me a river. Did you forget there is a dash in the name? F dash 150. Ford has no case because of the dash.

Trademark protection is not much different than any other property protection. Good fences make good neighbors (aka - keep you sh!t in your own yard and stay out of mine).
You must defend and protect what is your own. Google "adverse possession" sometime if think it's ok to let others use what is yours.

Hoser-

When Toyota was getting ready to release the new T100 pickup a few years ago they originally wanted to call it a T150. Since the T150 name was too close to the F-150 name Ford stepped in. Toyota changed it to T100.

Too bad Ford did not go after Toyota for the T100 name, also. Sounding too much like the old Ford F-100.

@Francesco, I don't tell people I drive a Ford F dash 150. F150 is still the name, the dash is in the logo. But if you go around calling it an F dash 150, then good for you.

As an attorney - this is hardly an automatic win for Ford, a plaintiff in a trademark case has the burden of proving that the defendant's use of a mark has created a likelihood-of-confusion about the origin of the defendant's goods or services.

To analyze the "likelihood of confusion," courts generally look at the following eight factors:

1) the similarity in the overall impression created by the two marks; (CAN'T FIND A FERRARI LOGO TO COMPARE TO FORD)
2) the similarities of the goods involved (including the marketing channels for the goods); (NO COMPARISON BETWEEN GOODS & THE FERRARI IS NOT MARKETED FOR SALE. POINT=FERRARI)
3) the strength of the plaintiff's mark; (POINT=FORD)
4) evidence of actual confusion by consumers; (I'M SURE FORD WILL FIND SOME GOOBER WHO IS CONFUSED, BUT REALLY, PLEASE? POINT=FERRARI)
5) the intent of the defendant in adopting its mark; (FERRARI HAS LEGIT EXPLANATION. POINT=FERRARI)
6) the physical proximity of the goods in the retail marketplace; (THERE IS NO RETAIL MARKETPLACE FOR THE FERRARI. POINT=FERRARI.)
7) the degree of care likely to be exercised by the consumer; (SEE 4&6, ABOVE. POINT=FERRARI.)
8) the likelihood of expansion of the product lines. (SEE 6 ABOVE, THIS IS NOT A PRODUCT LINE FOR FERRARI. POINT=FERRARI.)

Frankly, the only concern I see for Ferrari is if the logos are too similar then Ferrari will have a problem using it to sell hats & t-shirts. Otherwise, this is a dumb argument by Ford for publicity only.

@Francesco - I thought that this was frivolous at first. The thing that swayed me was that the Ford F150 registered brand has made Ford 180 billion to date.
180 billion.
Will Ford win? maybe., maybe not.
If anything Ferrari will probably have to change the looks of their logo.

We wouldn't want to confuse any intellectually challenged individuals who might be traumatized by acidentally buying and wearing a Ferrari T shirt or ball cap.
It would be very embarassing if you showed up at a Monster Jam event improperly dressed.

@Brian.A Wagner My wife who is a lawyer in Commercial law here, said the same thing. Ferrari are keeping the F150 or F-150 in there case, but adding the other words to distinguish it . Ford under US law has to defend its trademark or lose it. The Ferrari F150 is not a series of racing cars for sale, so Ford cannot claim for damages.

Why doesn't Ferrari name it 150th Anniversary F1 and be done with it. But no, they are still mad that they lost the 24 hr LeMans.

@ Brian A. Wagner

Go back to LAW SCHOOL. Kidding

Ford won!!! Ferrari to drop F150 Name

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/02/10/us-ford-ferrari-idUSTRE7190DQ20110210

http://www.leftlanenews.com/update-ford-wins-again-ferrari-to-drop-f150-name.html

Memories of the 24 hrs LeMans

Ford: Just trying to get money anyway they can. This should get thrown out of court. Let Ferrari do what they want. How can you possible mistake an F1 race car with a heavy, slow, poorly designed pick up truck? What a waste of time.

@Reed,

Ford has more cash than debt. They are just protecting their $180 million dollar investment in the F-150 trademark name. You would do the same. Quit being a hypocrite.

F-150 is solely a trademark of Ford. They ain't stupid, unlike others.

Correction, $180 BILLION

@Reed, if you don't like pickup trucks, what the hell are you doing on this website?

FYI..You can buy the old F1 cars from Ferrari after a waiting period (ten years maybe?) as to not help out competing race teams but you need pockets far deeper than even Mr. Levine( lol ) has. Market share impact to Ford would be minimal I think BUT Ford looking the other way now would make it much harder when drawing the line in the sand actually matters.

Fords Motto: if you can't beat em, Sue em. So fords suing em.

all these big companies do this stuff, why is this such a bitching fest on here? They are all guilty, i recall in vancouver BC a popular restaurant with a 50's theme was called Chevy's and had been around quite awhile, GM went to court and made them change their name. When the olympics came to Vancouver another restaurant had the word "olympic" in their name and had been around for decades. The IOC made them change their name for infringment, this isnt anything news, get over it people and keep bringing us the good articles Mike!

@Bob,

GM's motto is, if you can't beat them, join them.

@ Bob - GM's moto if you can't beat 'em - file for bankruptsy!

@ Frank - join em? as in government?

@Lou,

100% Correct!!!!!

why are we arguing over something stupid that ferrari did, knowing that ford would probly get pissed about. nor ferrari or ford are acting that smart, so, who cares. it only gonna be another while before one or more auto commpanys screw up agian and then we will be arguing about that.

i do agree with the lawsuit though lou made a good point about how dodge would feel if another commpany started use the names "RAM" or "HEMI"

@sleder Ford may have opened up a portal it may want to close. Mercedes has an E350, so does Ford, does this mean Daimler will now sue Ford over using its Alphanumeric model designation or Vica Versa?.
Ford could be the loser if this thing escalates. It is not in anyway guaranteed damages. In Italy and some other countries attacks on Ferrari and seemingly trivializing the foundation day of a country, could have diasasterous effects on Ford's sales in Europe. They are already having problems with falling profits.
Somewhow this whole thing could have been handled a lot better by Ford.

i doubt this will have any affect on Ford or any other company that does this, 10 bucks in 2 weeks we will have long forgotten this (95% of the people out there doesnt even know it happened) and this site and any other site that like to argue and bantor with each other will have moved onto newer and bigger arguements...make sense?

@ Dean - indubitably!

Yeah, and Spike Lee and his pompous-ass thought he owned all claims to the name Spike- Got his ass handed to him on a platter as well.

As for a couple of the posts I read:

You can't compare Five Hundred at Ford to Fiat 500. Words and letters are not the same.

GT is not a name brand, it is an abbreviation of two words.

And lastly folks, it's not about brand confusion, it's about GREED. While I agree Ford does hold fast to that name and it is theirs, trademarked and protected, they're not concerned about damage to their reputation or brand confusion. They simply do not want ANYONE making a penny off of their name recognition. Now if Ferrari wanted to pay Ford to use or lease the name, they'd be MORE than happy to draw up the papers, if the price were right.

Money, boys and girls, it's what makes the world go 'round and it's ALL anyone cares about. No matter what they may tell you. ;-)



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