Share/E-mail This Story

Email This



Ford Continues To Slap Down Enthusiast Calendars, Saying You Can't Sell Photos Of Your Own Car

from the seems-like-a-stretch dept

Back in October, Ford got itself into some hot water over plenty of negative attention after it forced a Jaguar enthusiasts' group to stop selling calendars made up of photos of the cars they actually owned. You would have thought that the folks at Ford would have learned from the negative publicity surrounding that debacle. Apparently, they learned nothing, because they've now done the exact same thing to a Mustang enthusiasts' club, and it's getting even more attention than the last time around. What possible rationale does a lawyer give for suggesting slapping down an attempt by a car company's biggest fans (by their own admission!) to celebrate how much they love their vehicles by promoting them to others? Some may claim that you need to enforce your trademark or risk losing it -- but a situation like this is unlikely to be seen as something that needs to have been enforced. No sane judge will rule that allowing enthusiasts to display a calendar is the equivalent of giving up your trademark rights.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Jan 15th, 2008 @ 3:26am

    Hopefully money will be lost

    From what I've read about this case elsewhere, a lot of the owners are threatening to boycott Ford if they continue with this action. That's right, a Ford enthusiast club is threatening to boycott the very thing that they spend their time doing with their disposable income because Ford is trying to protect their "property".

    I'm confused as to why Ford would even think they have a case. We're talking about free advertising and fair use of a person's own property. This would be like Campbells suing Andy Warhol for painting their soup cans - utterly stupid.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    August West, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 3:38am

    Hmmm, I say Hmmm

    And people wonder why Ford is struggling in the marketplace? Decisions this idiotic are never isolated incidents. It took a committe of idiots to make this decision, and they make other decisions as well.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    MadJo (profile), Jan 15th, 2008 @ 3:54am

    Fans?

    We don't need no stinkin' fans! We want money! Money, money, lotsa money!

    This is exactly what you get when you let the legal department run loose/run the company.
    Shortsighted maroons.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Hellsvilla, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 4:00am

    hahahahahahaha

    The only thing funnier than giving the business's reins to the lawyers is to give the reins to the sales and marketing department.

    Both situations lead to the complete corruption and eventual dissolving of the company, but the lawyers end things too quickly for that long chuckle. The sales and marketing folks take forever to do what the lawyers can do in just one year.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Wolfger, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 4:25am

    Only thing I can think of...

    ...is that the calendar is being sold as a "Ford Mustang Calendar" or some other name that "could confuse customers" into thinking Ford actually publishes or endorses the calendar. In which case, the best thing Ford could do would be to ask the club to burn the existing calendars and in exchange, pay (out of Ford's pocket) to reprint new calendars under a new name. That would generate *good* publicity and good will, rather than bad publicity and ill will. Or, they could just ignore it, which would be cheaper.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    John Duncan Yoyo, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 4:35am

    Re: Only thing I can think of...

    How about the license the use of the Ford name in instances like this for a dollar?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    John Duncan Yoyo, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 4:35am

    Re: Only thing I can think of...

    How about the license the use of the Ford name in instances like this for a dollar?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Adimax, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 4:37am

    The next big lawsuit...

    Armani sues actors for wearing their clothing at high profile events with lots of photographers.

    "We sold them the clothes, but we never gave the OK for them to put themselves AND our clothing on so many magazine covers!"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    VoicesInMyHead, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 4:44am

    Re: Only thing I can think of...

    Nope... It's a pseudo internet 'club', made up of only the color black mustangs. Black Mustang Club. Here is their forum, and message thread on this C&D order:

    http://www.bmcforums.com/showthread.php?t=42402

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Vincent Clement, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 4:48am

    You know that intellectual property law as we know it is a failure when you have record companies suing their fans, automotive companies sending cease & desist letters to fan clubs, and content creators abuse the DMCA to remove negative reviews on the internet (oddly enough they don't abuse the DMCA to remove positive reviews).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Doug Robb, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 5:12am

    Trade Mark not being violated?

    I would have thought the Trade Mark was more to do with protecting the manufacturer from others building cars and sticking a Ford logo on it in the same way you expect Fender Stratocasters for example to me made by Fender and not someone else. It's a simple matter of preventing confusion in the market place between various car makers.

    So if you actually own a genuine Ford vehicle and choose to either drive it, sleep in it, take it to a fan club show or make a calendar out of it I don't see how you are infringing the Trade Mark even if they consider the mark extends into other areas?

    There is no condition that you are sold the car for the sole purpose of driving it is there? So my point is as long as it's what the maker (Ford) produced you can do what you dam well like with the car - even heaven forbid crash it!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Chronno S. Trigger, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 5:14am

    Re:

    Why is it that only the gaming companies seem to get this? Bungie and Red vs. Blue come to mind. Bungie didn't sue, they helped, they understand the value of user generated content.

    Why is it when I try to link to the rvb page (www.redvsblue.com) it comes up as "Http://www.techdirt.com/www.redvsblue.com"?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Mmmm Mmmm Good, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 5:18am

    Re: Hopefully money will be lost

    PaulT said:
    "This would be like Campbells suing Andy Warhol for painting their soup cans - utterly stupid."

    I thought they did. Can anyone confirm this ?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    icon
    Eric Aitala (profile), Jan 15th, 2008 @ 5:33am

    Something similar is messy up my hobby, scale model building. Companies are going after aftermarket decal makers who sell decals to accurately represent sponsor decals for race cars. Its virtually impossible to get licensing to produce the decals - either the cost is too high for such a small market or finding who to contact in not possible.

    I've suggested that some of the major model builders - one fellow gets about $15k for his finished kits - start contacting the companies to get money from them or leave those sponsor decals off.

    Dr. E.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Jan 15th, 2008 @ 5:39am

    Re #5

    You would think Ford would Want to endorse this.
    It is peolpe who love their cars.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Joel Coehoorn, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 5:40am

    slashdot

    The slashdot brief I read previously talked about Ford claiming ownership (copyright) over the photos, but that is misleading. The trademark issue mentioned here makes a lot more sense, at least from a legal standpoint. The business case is still puzzling.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    matt, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 5:43am

    hate to say it but...

    honestly, take them to court, countersue for large sums of money, demand an injunction against ford. If they have the resources to do this (or a smart enough lawyer to take it on), that is probably the only way ford will recognize this. Of course they'll try to drop it before that so that they can try the case with other people first.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Cixelsid, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 5:59am

    Re: Fans?

    "Shortsighted maroons."

    Hehe...maroons...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    icon
    Jeffry Houser (profile), Jan 15th, 2008 @ 6:07am

    Insane Judges

    There seem to be a lot of insane judges and crazy rulings these days..

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Eterion, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 6:19am

    real stupidity

    One person can make a stupid decision but it takes a committee to make a really idiotic one.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Jan 15th, 2008 @ 6:44am

    Re: Re: Hopefully money will be lost

    Thanks to work filters, I haven't been able to look it up, but yeah I think they did sue. That's the half-assed point I was trying to make in a way - Campbell's didn't gain anything if they did sue, and the indirect promotional value of Warhol's paintings did nothing but good for them.

    The same here - Ford would never get damaged by this calendar but could indirectly help interest people in their products without any cost to them. Instead, they're suing and potentially losing themselves some of their best customers while doing nothing would cause them no damage...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    jasna, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 6:48am

    Trademark?

    I work in TV and films. Recently we were instructed to hide the logo on some cars to avoid showing brands. I'm not talking James Bond in a car front and center. I'm talking a medium budget family film where the scene is on the street. To be fair this came from producers as they are increasingly afraid of being sued.

    It's just easier to "dress" the street with cars from companies not so anal retentive.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Overcast, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 6:56am

    So now - Ford, like the RIAA - wants ownership of an item AFTER they sell it??

    A new law would help - how about one - where, when a consumer buys something... it's THEIRS.

    Ford better get on suing the movie companies too.

    That's ok - I'll keep in mind that I can't take pictures of my own car if I buy a Ford - and I'm buying in a couple months.. I figured with how their stock is doing, they would be more friendly...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Chuck, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 7:00am

    Ford Fiasco

    If the pictures that are taken by the owners of the afore mentioned Mustangs are the intellectual property of Ford then why hasn’t Ford complained about every picture taken by Auto Trader of any other mag that advertises cars for sale? There is money being made from these as well, I think Ford should get their heads out of their wallets and start working on ways to promote their products and build better cars so that they might get back the sales they have lost to Toyota and Honda.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 7:07am

    "No sane judge will rule that allowing enthusiasts to display a calendar is the equivalent of giving up your trademark rights."

    A sane judge might rule that enthuiasts can't SELL calendars though. That is what the suit is about, not displaying.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Daniel, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 7:09am

    Car Companies easier to understand...

    If you watch the movie, "Who Killed the Electric Car". Netflix has it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Bill Snyder, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 7:10am

    Ford

    Why don't we just let Ford die out as it should. This Corp. has never listened to the public, (its customers), and evidently is to constipated to see it's mistakes. We don't need them any more. Good bye Ford, now realistically known as, Found On Road Dead, of business suicide!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Gurney, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 7:12am

    Next Ford will be baring them from using there cars in public performances (aka driving in the streets)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 7:20am

    Re: Only thing I can think of...

    ...is that the calendar is being sold as a "Ford Mustang Calendar" or some other name that "could confuse customers" into thinking Ford actually publishes or endorses the calendar.

    I think you're making stuff up now.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 7:24am

    Re: hate to say it but...

    honestly, take them to court...

    Who's supposed to pay for that?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 7:30am

    Re:

    A sane judge might rule that enthuiasts can't SELL calendars though.

    You left out the "in" and misspelled "enthusiasts". Here, let me fix it for you:

    An insane judge might rule that enthusiasts can't SELL calendars though.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    SeattleGuy, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 8:13am

    Let'em die off...

    ...cuz they don't deserve to live. Ford is the company that promotes (maybe started?) a legal defense fund for Alberto Gonzales.

    I'll never buy another Ford, aside from supporting a lying thief, they can't (or won't!) make a car that has what I consider to be good gas mileage. In fact, Explorer sales are down 26%, while Prius sales are up by at least the same amount.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    George Heindel, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 9:34am

    I DO NOT BELIEVE IT!

    As an avid Ford Fan and collector for over forty years, I am appalled at what I have read here and elsewhere concerning this issue.

    WAKE UP FORD...the corporation with the most Collectible Automobiles on the planet. Why can only Carroll Shelby and Jack Roush depict your products in every publication in the US?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    George Heindel, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 9:43am

    Re:

    Hoping you are incorrect!
    Many of the collector car community may choose to challenge
    that freedom en masse.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Mojo, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 11:28am

    While I still think Ford is a little nuts, you have to try and see it from the other side - I'm guessing there *IS* an official Mustang calandar out there, and if the fan club is selling an unauthorized one, that directly competes with a licensed product; that can easily be demonstrated as potentially digging into the sales of a company that has paid a fee to sell a Mustang calandar.

    If Ford lets that slide, then I could see the calandar company having a legit case to sue Ford for not protecting the license they paid for. And if the fan club is allowed to sell their calandar, can another fan club sell keychains too? Where do you draw the line?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Terry, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 11:44am

    Yeah, I sent an email to ford's customer service and I have been bounced to 8, yes EIGHT different departments trying to get info on this situation.

    Personally I own a ford, I have always owned fords. I work for another medium and heavy duty manufacturer and we promote things like this. We want to see what the customers are doing to THEIR own vehicles. We have sold untold amounts of parts to customers when they bring a picture in of a truck and say "make it look like that".

    But if Ford wants to tell me that I can't make money off of the truck that I own, I will be asking for royalties back for me to stay loyal...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Pathetic, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 12:40pm

    Bottom line - another company is profiting from the sales of calendars that contain Ford deemed "intellectual property", without their consent (aka piece of the pie).

    It's a constant reminder of the direction that society has been headed down for quite some time, "when in financial difficulty, seek legal sources for income". It's no different for companies as it is for individuals.

    As a major US corporation, you need to pick and choose your battles wisely, after-all, you have a reputation to maintain, right? This perhaps, will undoubtedly cost the company far more than the "few" enthusiasts that were directly effected.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    James, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 1:48pm

    When Ford's name appears as owner on the car's title, then and only then can they have a say in what happens with a picture of the car. Period.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    John Duncan Yoyo, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 1:53pm

    Re: Re: Only thing I can think of...

    Ford would prefer that you bought a Dodge calendar.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 4:46pm

    Re:

    I'm guessing there *IS* an official Mustang calandar out there, and if the fan club is selling an unauthorized one, that directly competes with a licensed product;

    So? What's wrong with competition?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    Timmy, Jan 16th, 2008 @ 9:54am

    BMC Calendar Approved

    If anyone read the forum you would find out that the calendar was approved by Ford. Cafe Press would not print the calendar because they have had trademark issues in the past.

    Please read this thread:

    http://www.bmcforums.com/showthread.php?t=42820

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2008 @ 2:22pm

    Re: BMC Calendar Approved

    So Ford had a change of heart, eh? It's amazing what publicity can do sometimes. Still, they were wrong in the first place.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    identicon
    Ford Mustang, Feb 11th, 2010 @ 11:40pm

    Mustang enthusiasts

    Ford could raise their profile, not lower it, with a little free endorsement. It doesn't cost them a cent, but it keeps people loyal to the brand and makes them feel that their creators really love the cars too.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This