San Diego – To honor the 150th anniversary of Italy’s unification, Italian luxury sports car-maker Ferrari announced it’s new Formula One sports car called the F150. Not so fast said American auto-maker, Ford. Ford is arguing that Ferrari’s use of the trademark will likely cause confusion with consumers.
On Wednesday, February 9th, 2011, Ford sued Ferrari in federal court for cyber squatting and infringing on the famous F150 trademark. Ferrari created the website ferrarif150.com to correspond with the release of the sports car. Ford spokeswoman, Anne Marie Gattari, stated, “When Ferrari announced the name of its race car as ‘F 150,’ Ford asked Ferrari to change the name. Ferrari did not respond in a timely matter, leaving Ford no choice but to take legal action to protect its important brand and trademark rights.”
Ford obtained a trademark registration for F-150 in 1995, however it has been using the name since 1975 for its full-size line of pick-up trucks. In the lawsuit, Ford claimed that the F-150 trademark has suffered irreparable harm and is seeking to stop Ferrari from using the trademark in the U.S. Ford is also suing for unspecified damages and for the Italian auto-maker to relinquish any revenue and profits it earned in the U.S. through the sale of its F150 sports car. As for their claim of cybersquatting, Ford is asking for $100,000 in damages.
Ferrari is obviously disputing any likelihood of confusion between the two F150’s. A spokesperson for the company said, “Ferrari believes that its own contender in the forthcoming F1 championship cannot be confused with other types of commercially available vehicles of any sort whatsoever, nor can it give the impression that there is a link to another brand of road-going vehicle. Therefore it is very difficult to understand Ford’s viewpoint on the matter. Despite this and to further prove it is acting in good faith and that it operates in a completely correct manner, 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 F150th Italia.”
Ford has not since responded to Ferrari’s statement or has yet dropped the lawsuit. Though at first blush Ford’s claim may seem a little silly, we don’t think it is. Should Ford allow Ferrari to use the F150 trademark in relation to Ferrari’s automobiles, it would become much harder to stop a similar infringement in the future.