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.

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Companies: ford

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

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PaulT (profile) says:

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.

PaulT (profile) says:

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…

Hellsvilla (user link) says:


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.

Wolfger (profile) says:

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.

Vincent Clement says:

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).

Chronno S. Trigger says:

Re: 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 ( it comes up as “Http://”?

Doug Robb (profile) says:

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!

Eric Aitala (profile) says:

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.

matt says:

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.

jasna says:


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.

Overcast says:

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…

Chuck says:

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.

SeattleGuy (user link) says:

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.

Mojo says:

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?

Terry says:

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…

Pathetic says:

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.

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