Let this serve as a warning to anybody who thinks they can get away with trademark infringement, especially when it comes to building replica models of classic vehicles.
Over in Germany, a replica Mercedes 300 SL was confiscated by customs officials after learning that it was built without the consent of Daimler. Considering that the German company has already stamped the trademark for the model and is considered as a "work of applied art," any and all replica models of the classic Mercedes would be in violation of Daimler’s trademark on the car.
So what exactly happened to the seized replica 300 SL? In order to send a clear and stern message to anybody looking to build their own 300 SL, German authorities set out and destroyed it.
The first thing they did was to separate the chassis from the body with the Mercedes-Benz used-parts center taking care of destroying the body on behalf of Daimler AG courtesy of two presses, each applying over 30 tons of pressure. Seeing as the replica had a fiberglass body, it wasn’t hard for the presses to smash the body into bits and pieces.
And to add insult to the car’s shameful end, the body was officially documented with a signed and stamped ’confirmation of scrappage,’ which is pretty much like a scarlet letter in its own right.
Check out the press release after the jump
Gallery Mercedes 300SL Gullwing (W194)
Stuttgart – Mercedes-Benz Classic has destroyed the replica body of a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL. The courts have ruled that it is not legal to market the body, which was seized by German customs officials.
The body shape of the legendary gullwing model has been trademarked by Daimler AG. Anyone building, offering or selling replicas of the vehicle is in breach of the Company’s rights. This even applies if the replicas do not incorporate any logos or trademarks of the Company. Daimler AG has long taken a tough approach to vehicle replicas.
As a work of applied art, the body of the 300 SL has been under copyright protection for a number of decades. The employees who designed the famous gullwing model in the 1950s granted Daimler AG comprehensive exploitation rights. The body shape has also been trademarked by Daimler AG, as recently confirmed by the Stuttgart regional court (case no. 17 O 304/10, final and binding judgment dated 9 December 2010, following withdrawal of an appeal).
A case had arisen in which a company based in Germany had built an unlawful replica of a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL (W 198 series). The first step in destroying the replica was to separate the chassis from the body. The Mercedes-Benz used-parts centre, which is also responsible for scrapping all Mercedes-Benz prototypes from the development units, then destroyed the body on behalf of Daimler AG. The certified equipment used in the centre includes two presses, each applying over 30 tonnes of pressure. The replica sports car had a fibreglass body weighing precisely 148 kilograms, which the compressor smashed into small pieces. This dramatic end to the unlawful body was officially documented with a signed and stamped ’confirmation of scrappage’.
The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL (W 198 series) is one of the best known cars in the world. It was launched on the market in 1954 as a coupé with distinctive gullwing doors. In 1999, an international panel of judges voted it ’sports car of the century’. Today, the original gullwing model and its roadster variant, which was introduced in 1957, are two of the most coveted vehicles on the international classic car scene. All the major car collections worldwide feature the 300 SL – an icon of design and engineering expertise.