This loss for Ferrari could be a big gain for the rest of us

Ferrari has a horrible reputation for being overprotective of its name and brand image, easily to the point that it comes off as arrogant. Less than a year ago, the company even threatened to sue an Instagram user over posting a picture of his matching shoes on top of his very own Ferrari 812 Superfast – that’s how overly protective the company is. More recently, Ferrari has been in a dispute with Ares Design over the design of the Ferrari 250 GTO, one of the rarest and most sought after Ferraris ever made. Naturally, Ferrari (who probably spends millions each year in legal fees at the very least) did everything it could to protect its trademark, but this time it just didn’t work.

250 GTO Recreation Models Are Now Possible

For Once, Ferrari Didn't Get Its Way, And It's About Damn time
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A long story short, Ares Design wanted to build its own take on the rare Ferrari 250 GTO. Of course, Ferrari can’t have any of that – it’ll sue people for anything, right? Well, Ares went to the European Union Intellectual Protection Office – more specifically the Cancellation Division – and argued that the company filed its trademark on the 250 GTO’s design in bad faith. Since Ferrari hasn’t used the design or name in the last five years, by EU intellectual property law, it makes the trademark eligible for cancellation.

Ares argument included the following:

" with regard to the goods listed [the 250 GTO design], the EUTM was in use in a similar form only for a few years, namely in the 1960s. It is similar to Ferrari's 250 GTO model, which was created in 1962, with a relatively small production run of 36 cars."
For Once, Ferrari Didn't Get Its Way, And It's About Damn time
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Ferrari’s response, however, focused on the 250 GTO name and design being one of the most iconic cars the brand has ever created and even went so far as to claim it as a status symbol:

" The 250 GTO model is a sports car produced from 1962 until 1964 only in 39 units, all still existing, and that it is recognized as one of the most glorious and iconic Ferrari cars ever created. Although no longer in production, the 250 GTO is still in great demand. The car and corresponding EUTM have become a symbol of Italian style in the world, making it a way of living and a status symbol."

The company went on to claim that use of the 250 GTO’s design outside of Ferrari would devalue the real and original GTOs as it would add supply to a hotbed of excessive demand to which there is next to no supply. In Ferrari’s own words:

For Once, Ferrari Didn't Get Its Way, And It's About Damn time
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"Further, the EUTM proprietor argues that Ferrari’s 250 GTO is destined to a very restricted market of collectors, celebrities and super-rich who can afford to spend millions of Euros to buy such an extra-expensive luxury car. This means that, at least as Class 12 is concerned, it will be sufficient to show very few sales of the products, of their spare parts, or of the related activities of maintenance, repair, and restoration, to fulfill the use requirement."

Unfortunately, for Ferrari but fortunate for Ares and, probably, the rest of the world, the EUIPO awarded Ares a partial victory. The 250 GTO design has been released for Class 12 (vehicles and their assorted components), Class 25 (clothing and related merchandise), and Class 28 (Games and playthings, except toy vehicles and scale-model vehicles). Ferrari maintains the 250 GTO trademark for the exception of toy vehicles and scale-model vehicles.

For Once, Ferrari Didn't Get Its Way, And It's About Damn time
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In this case, the concept of "genuine use" wasn’t met by Ferrari’s insistence that the shape is part of the company’s mystique. And, now, the door is open to outside manufacturers to design cars with the likeness of the 250 GTO in much the same way that Superfast sells Shelby Cobra lookalikes.

Ferrari Will Probably Keep the 250 GTO Name to Itself

For Once, Ferrari Didn't Get Its Way, And It's About Damn time
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Of course, Ferrari couldn’t just accept defeat, so days before receiving the EUIPO’s decision, it filed paperwork to trademark the 250 GTO name for automobiles, video games, sunglasses, toys, and more. That filing is currently in the "opposition period" which will last until October 2020. Should the filing go according to Ferrari’s plan, nobody but Ferrari will be able to use the "Ferrari 250 GTO" name.

Final Thoughts

For Once, Ferrari Didn't Get Its Way, And It's About Damn time
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I understand that Ferrari is a reputable brand and that everyone at the heart of the company takes pride in that. But, the company has been way too arrogant over the years, controlling what people can and can’t do with their own cars to the point that it’s just laughable (until you’re at the wrong end of a lawsuit, anyway). The sheer fact that the EUIPO has actually sided with Ares as opposed to Ferrari just made my week because, for once, the company has seen that it can’t always have its way, and I’m sorry to say, but it’s about damn time.

1962 Ferrari 250 GTO specifications
Engine: 3.0-liter V-12
Power: 296 horsepower
Torque: 217 pound-feet
0-60 mph: 6.1 seconds
Top speed: 158 mph
Units built: 36
Robert Moore
Editor-in-Chief and Automotive Expert - robert@topsped.com
Robert has been an auto enthusiast his entire life. He started working cars at a young age, learning the basics from his father in the home garage on the weekends. As time went on, Robert became more and more interested in cars and convinced his father to teach him how to drive when he was just 13 years old. Robert continued working on cars in his free time and learned as much as he could about engines, transmissions, and car electrical systems, something that only fed his curiosity more and eventually led him to earn a bachelors degree in automotive technology with a primary focus on engine performance and transmission rebuilding.  Read More
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