Is it possible to confuse a pickup with a Formula 1 car if they have the same model name? Ford certainly thinks so, which is why it filed suit against Ferrari yesterday, and forced the Italian automaker to rename its latest F1 racer.
Ferrari announced the name of its 2011 Formula 1 racecar last week, calling it the Ferrari F 150 (space, no hyphen). Ferrari chose to name its car as such in celebration of the 150th anniversary Italy’s unification. That didn’t amuse Ford, however, who manufactures the F-150 (no space, hyphen) pickup, whose logo even resembles the font Ferrari used on the new race car.
Ford allegedly asked Ferrari to rename the car shortly after the official announcement, but the automaker saw fit to file a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Detroit yesterday afternoon. Ford claims Ferrari has violated the trademark on the F-150 name (no space, but a hyphen), and also managed to violate the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act by creating the website www.ferrarif150.com. It is asking for Ferrari to pay $100,000 in damages for the misleading website URL, and all profits made within the U.S — an interesting caveat, considering the car is not being offered for sale, and there are no F1 events currently held in North America.
Ferrari officials dismissed the suit as frivolous, but SpeedTV reports Ferrari has apparently changed the car’s name to F 150th Italia (space, no hyphen, ordinal number). No word yet on whether or not the website will change or if the modification appeases the suits in Dearborn, but Ferrari has already retroactively updated press releases to display the new name.
We understand why Ford is protective of the F-150 name. The pickup is, after all, one of the company’s flagship vehicles, accumulating gross revenues of over $180 billion in the past 14 years. The F-150 name has been used on its pickup trucks since the 1975 model year, and was awarded a trademark registration in 1995.
That said, we doubt any consumers would confuse a quarter-ton pickup for a million-dollar rocket on wheels. You be the judge — was Ford’s fight fair or frivolous?