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Ford sues Ferrari over F150 name

2011-02-10 08:09

HANDS OFF OUR BAKKIE: The animosity between old enemies is about to reach a new tipping point.

When Ferrari revealed its 2011 F1 car during the last week of January, many observers were quite taken by the irony of its name.

Ferrari, in celebrating 150 years of the unification of Italy, patriotically chose to name its 2011 F1 car the F150.

In Europe, where bakkies are only used as rescue vehicles and by a few (very) hardy rural famers, this was not an issue.

Globally though, the world’s best selling bakkie is Ford’s North American-issue F-150.

As Ford’s cash cow and sales leader, the F-150 is robustly protected by American corporate law and – as predicted – the appropriate legal paperwork is now being prepared to challenge Ferrari’s use of the ‘F150’ nameplate for its F1 racers during the 2011 season.

Ford says it acted in good faith and contacted Maranello to negotiate.

Dearborn’s official line is unambiguous. "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."

Ferrari’s borderline technical infringements and racing ‘tactics’ usually keep the FIA’s legal committee quite busy; now the fabled Italian F1 team is facing a more severe corporate legal challenge, from a company it has a history of bad blood with.


Ford’s abortive attempt to buy Ferrari in 1963, after it had exerted a lot of time and money on an audit of Maranello’s business and facilities (only to have Enzo Ferrari break-off negotiations at the last moment), gave birth to the GT40 endurance racer - conceived to directly counter Ferrari’s Le Mans success.

The GT40 went on to win Le Mans outright from 1966-1969 and was perhaps one of the most triumphant examples of corporate one-upmanship ever.

Beyond Ford’s history of strained relations with Ferrari, it is worth noting that Ferrari belongs to Fiat, who in turn own Chrysler and are attempting an audacious programme to introduce various small car models from the Italian auto giant to the American market.

A rather sensitive time to go to court concerning the issue of ‘stealing’ America’s favourite bakkie’s name, now isn’t it?

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