|Looks like a Ferrari,|
handles like a Ford ...
A few weeks ago the IPKat's friend Kingsley Egbuonu reported on the dispute between car-makers Ford and Ferrari as to whether the latter's F150 mark infringed the former's F-150. As has been spotted by some readers, there have been further developments. As Kingsley explains:
Arguably, Ferrari may owe some of its own commercial success and fame to IP rights -- which do exist for a reason. The majority of old and successful companies that are still with us today have always vigorously protected their trade marks; while some (notable) trade mark owners have on occasion been too slow to react to IP threats, or have failed to monitor and enforce their rights.On 3 March, ferrari.com's The Horse Whisperer announced that Ford has withdrawn its lawsuit, adding the comment that “.....common sense has prevailed”. The text continued as follows:
”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 other matters, namely ensuring that our car that already seems to be pretty good out of the box, becomes a real winner”.
We have many times been guilty of criticising a person who enforced rights enshrined in law; for instance, under human rights law or in this case, IP law. If this were to be the norm, then we might as well replace all laws (including IP) with “common sense” and live in a world of commercial anarchy. When Ferrari claims the support of the Court of Public Opinion with the expression “common sense”, my guess is that it implies “what is reasonable” -- which is what judges deal with in a court of law.
Horse whisperer here
Just like anyone else, trade mark owners (even Ferrari) must remember the need to conduct due diligence checks before making any commercial branding decision, and there is nothing wrong with IP owners taking appropriate legal action as the last resort, provided their action is not vexatious or frivolous.
Call Ferrari’s press release what you may: insulting, cheeky, condescending, (right or wrong). Other companies may do the same. Perhaps a better PR approach would have kept Ferrari's response short -- using just the first paragraph, less the last sentence. After all, it may not be long before Ferrari finds itself in Ford’s shoes".
Hoarse whisperer here