Ferrari has lost a complicated legal battle to preserve the trademark to one of its most iconic models of all time – and one of the most expensive cars in the world.
The Ferrari 250 GTO is a V12-powered road-legal race car made from 1962 to 1964.
Now a landmark ruling by the European Union Intellectual Property Office could pave the way for replicas and kit cars copying the classic design of one of the rarest and most collectible Ferraris ever made.
Ferrari has retained the trademark to toys and model car versions of the 250 GTO, but in a ruling that many enthusiasts might think impossible, the Italian supercar maker now cannot stop independent companies from building and selling replicas.
Ferrari had renewed the trademark for its 250 GTO in 2008, to prevent future copycat designs.
The original – of which 36 were made from 1962 to 1964 – are among the rarest cars in the world.
At least one example of a Ferrari 250 GTO is believed to hold the record for the most expensive price ever paid for a motor vehicle – $US70 million in June 2018 – although the figure was never confirmed as it was a private sale. In August 2018, another example sold for a verified $US48.4 million, at auction.
However, the iconic and classic shape could soon slip from Ferrari’s grasp.
An independent firm called Ares Design – also from Modena in Italy, the home of Ferrari – argued the 2008 trademark had been “filed in bad faith, namely, as a defensive mark in order to block third parties to produce and sell similarly built sports cars,” UK finance website, This Is Money, reported.
“At the centre of the case was (a clause which states) a European Union trademark can be revoked if, within a continuous period of five years, the trademark has not been put to genuine use,” This Is Money reported.
Ares Design mounted its case against Ferrari with the “use it or lose it” argument, after claiming Ferrari “had not put the contested design to use since 1964, and that when they filed for the EU trademark in 2007, they had no intention to use it,” This Is Money reported.
The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) said: “In the present case, the Cancellation Division considers that genuine use of the contested (trademark) has been sufficiently demonstrated for the relevant factors in relation to toy vehicles (and) scale-model vehicles, whereas no use of the mark or proper reasons for non-use have been demonstrated in relation to any of the other goods in Class 12 (vehicles) for which it is registered.”
Translated, that means Ferrari had “not proven genuine use for a number of goods, which included vehicles”.
Media outlets in the UK also reported Ferrari won a case brought by Ares Design a year ago. A court in Bologna, Italy, reportedly recognised the Ferrari 250 GTO as “a work of art that could not be imitated or reproduced”.
It is unclear at this stage if Ferrari will challenge the latest decision. And Ferrari and Ares Design have reportedly not responded to overseas media requests for comment.
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