Ferrari Doesn't Want Web Racing Simulation To Use Ferraris

from the fair-use? dept

Lincoln Braun writes “I play an online web game. BATracer which is designed to simulate a number of racing series including Formula 1, LeMans, A1 Grand Prix, Ferrari Challenge, and more. This week, however, the owner of the site received a legal notice from Ferrari, ordering a cease & desist from using Ferrari cars. BATracer has somewhere between 2000 and 3000 active users, most of whom arrived at the site because of Formula 1. The letter by Ferrari has really annoyed many of the most passionate fans and they have lost a lot of goodwill.”

It looks like BATracer shut down for a bit before opening up again without Ferraris. Now, Ferrari has a big licensing business, but at some point you have to wonder if legal actions like this make any sense or if there’s a reasonable fair use claim. In the case of team sports simulations, courts have ruled that name and stats are facts — and not covered by intellectual property, so couldn’t you say the same thing for car names and specifications? And while I could potentially see a trademark issue, it’s not as if BATracer is actually “competing” in the same space as Ferrari. I can already hear the excuses about how Ferrari needs to keep its brand special and being seen in such a game might cheapen it — but that’s not the purpose of intellectual property law. Either way, it seems pretty dumb to piss off so many people even if many of them probably can’t afford a Ferrari in real life (probably what the company is betting on). There may be some who can (or who will be able to someday), and pushing them away for no good reason can’t help matters.

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Companies: ferrari

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Comments on “Ferrari Doesn't Want Web Racing Simulation To Use Ferraris”

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32 Comments
moore850 says:

Ferrari is right

Ferrari is totally right, using the Ferrari name which is synonymous with racing victory will get more people to play the game, and they have a right to say ‘hey, not ok to just do that without our permission’. It would be like using Kurt Cobain as a playable character in a game even though he specifically said when he was alive he would never want something like that… oops, sorry, guitar hero already did that. One phone call would prevent these situations, but I guess game companies would rather have egg on their face and get some bad press instead of doing the right thing.

Jambug says:

Re: Ferrari is right...not

If the game is free there’s no “trademark” issue. Nothing is being “marketed” with which a “trademark” issue would be warranted. Nor is anything being “sold”. Nor is anything being “intellectually compromised” because, intellectually, the whole issue from the standpoint of the “Ferrari Brand Name” is completely, absolutely, unflinchingly ignorant.

Case in point: two kids go outside to play “racecars” by running around the house. Kid 1 is a “Honda” and Kid 2 a “Ferrari”. Should a Ferrari Representative who lives nextdoor stop them from playing simply because they haven’t paid for the privilage? No. Der.

Case in point 2: Someone at a local art college draws a Ferrari Formula I race car running down the pope. It wins a prestigious prize. Should Ferrrari claim part of the prize as their own? Perhaps the Pope might want to get in on that action? No. Der.

Corporations need to BACK THE F*** OFF. Now. Not later, not once they’ve realized how detrimental it is to their “continuing profit growth potentials”. Not after it’s legislated that way, but NOW. If they don’t, what they’re going to find is that people are not willing to give them license any longer as “entities” (ie, being treated by the law as a “person” with rights). Personally, I think the soon that happens, the sooner I can start charging them for all the commercials I have to endure in every facet of my daily life.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Ferrari is right

While no one argues that Ferrari has all the legal right in the world to do this the “one phone call” you mention is normally impossible to get. A start up company doesn’t have any numbers to the big wigs or important people and get the run around when they try to get to someone. Typically told to wait on hold until doomsday.

One thing to mention however is that a video game displaying Ferrari would not hurt the Ferrari name and is just free advertising. I can understand if it was a game driving over babies not wanting your name on it… but come on. You want to sell product, why not let people advertise for free. More players for them mean more people looking at your car, driving virtual versions of your car. DESIRING the car in real life!

Anonymous Coward says:

the point here is Ferrari worked hard on building cars and a brand name, they also have a huge following and it took them years to reach the status they have today.

so when a company decides to use that brand in order to better its status or increase the products they have available for there customers, Ferrari has all the right to demand compensation, it seems in this case it doesn’t think that there cars being available on that site is enough payment then so be it.

sniperdoc (profile) says:

Stupid article

pI can’t believe this even made it as an article into Techdirt. This is a clear trademark violation and anyone who decides to go against trademark agreements needs to recognize getting a cease-and-desist.

There are plenty of games out there that have Ferraries and they don’t get cease and desist orders because… they pay licensing fees. No brainer there.

Trademark your own slogan/design/name/etc and you can make money. That’s the great grand world of capitalism.

Now… someone remove this pathetic excuse for an article please and bring some quality back to Techdirt.

Michial Thompson (user link) says:

In mikee's world

Sniperdoc;

In mike m’s world no one has the right to protect anything they create. He feels that the entire world is entitled to our work for free. I suspect that his entitlement feelings has something to do with his lack of ability to create anything of value….

I am pretty certain the day mikee creates something that has any value at all he will be first in line to aggressively protect his right to control how it’s used. I highly doubt you will ever see anything from him though, and especially nothing that is free….

Lisa (profile) says:

Re: In mikee's world

“In mike m’s world no one has the right to protect anything they create. He feels that the entire world is entitled to our work for free. I suspect that his entitlement feelings has something to do with his lack of ability to create anything of value….”

He is creating something of value, articles questioning the current business model of artificial scarcity. And you’re being a bit too loose with the term ‘protect’.

pjhenry1216 (profile) says:

Re: In mikee's world

“I highly doubt you will ever see anything from him though, and especially nothing that is free….”

dude… you just read and responded to a free article written by him. he writes articles all the time and lets you read them for free. he lets other folks copy them and doesn’t force them to license it. how dense are you?

Michial Thompson (user link) says:

Re: Re: In mikee's world

There isn’t anything free about this pathetic babble…. Look at all the advertising?????

mikee m’s goal with his dribble has nothing to do with copyright, it’s about suckering fools into reading his site so that he can sell numbers to the advertisers. Most of which see no threat from his babble even though they depend heavily on IP for their own business models…

If they saw a thread from mikee m’s babble they wouldnt be advertising here….

Anonymous Coward says:

It’s amazing to me that of all the smart people who read Techdirt and I’m the first one to realize this?
Does no one realize that a LARGE part of the draw for Ferrari owners is the envy they get from those who cannot afford a Ferrari? It’s just as important that Ferrari protect it’s image in the minds of those who CAN’T afford them as it is to protect it’s image in the minds of those who CAN afford them. If Ferrari destroys it’s reputation such that regular people are no longer envious of Ferrari owners, then rich people will no longer be interested in owning them. They’ll just move on to whatever next extravagant purchase DOES make every one want to be them.
Where will Ferrari be when no one wants them? I guess in the same boat as Jaguar!

mlass says:

Unless the Ferrari is the only reason people where drawn to the website, I don’t see any harm done. It’s free advertisement for them. How many people violate DVD and CD rights by playing them in public and not playing royalties.

I’m sure the Ferrari name had nothing to do with people wanting to play the game and they won’t miss the Farrari.

RickTurner (profile) says:

Ferrari has every right to make this demand

Gran Turismo makers, Polyphony Digital, would have paid to put Ferraris in GT5… Add to that, Codemaasters has an F1 game out now,for the Wii and PSP, and will be releasing a high-def version for Playstation & the 360 in early 2010.

These companies would have paid fortunes for the rights to use the brands and will also be expected to create a high quality product, while being provided with the actual car’s to model.

Complaining about Ferrari doing something they should do? Geez, some people’s kids!

Ben (profile) says:

the right thing to do?

It is clear that what BATracer were doing is a trademark violation, but given that BATracer is a free-to-play game (and therefore it is unlikely the owners are getting significant income from it, especially with a mere 2-3000 users), one has to ask if the negative publicity generated for Ferrari by the cease-and-desist behaviour is the right thing to do. Perhaps Ferrari should have suggested a low-cost (or free-as-in-beer) way for BATracer to license the marque for non-commercial purposes?

Now wouldn’t that generate *positive* publicity instead? Whilst still ‘protecting the trademark’.

TheJadedTech (profile) says:

IP?

Geeze, gotta love all the ‘capitalism brainwashing’ that has gone on. You people actually think that it’s a GOOD idea?! Wow, and you wonder why the economic model we live under sucks. Keep believing it and keep wondering why people/company loose money hand over fist in order for their own personal gain….yeah…that really helps us out…..

This is about money and NOTHING else. Considering that money doesn’t exists any more other than an idea, I find it highly amusing at the rousing cry of ‘they worked for it so we should be paying them in order to use their name or image….’ Bet you people never downloaded a song from The Pirate Bay or Limewire either…..f*&^ing hypocrites.

WammerJammer (profile) says:

Ferrari Doesn't Want Web Racing Simulation To Use Ferraris

Sounds like a company in pain. Grasping at straws to matter in the real world. Ferrari’s are dream machines and like you stated not many people will be able to afford one.
The reality is that Daddy’s dead and this is now the son’s company and he is definitely NOT a creative wizard like his dad, and no amount of engineers will save him because none of them are close to being his father.
So we will wait and pretty soon they will only be available as models to be customized.

Eric (profile) says:

Car images

One thing which I think needs to be made clear about the game (and I am a member of BATracer).

Part of the issue is not just the name Ferrari but also that images of Ferraris, both drawn and photos, are used within the game. Also, users are (were) allowed to upload images of their racecars to the game to use for their teams.

So a user could take a Ferrari 360 Modena and create their own livery for the cars. I have seen some liberties taken with logos and graphics placed on the cars. This could raise some liability issues for both the game and Ferrari since there were also other web sites, not directly affiliated with BATracer, that allowed users to share these designs.

Eric

JamesGT says:

All driving games are like that.

Lots of driving games/sims are like that. They need licensing approval from whomever to put their cars into their games. SimBim, ISI, Electronic Arts, etc. etc., all have to get licensing agreements to put their cars into their games. That’s why in some games you see thinks like the “Durolet Duvelle”…no licensing from Chevrolet to use their cars.

Anonymous Coward says:

They should have simply removed any ferrari logos from the artwork, and they’d be free as a bird. As Apple found out, you can’t copyright look and feel. You’re free to make a car that looks just like a ferrari, as long as you’re not marketing it as a ferrari (otherwise Jaguar would have made a ton suing Hyundai). I’m assuming the same would be true for a video game.

Lone says:

Reality

I’m sorry but how many people here have actually played BATracer?

I think some people have just assumed this is a game on par with Gran Turismo or Forza and raking in big bucks from Ferrari branding and logos. The truth is the site has no stable source of income, and the owner barely manages to pay for the server costs (seriously).

In anycase, a few BATracers on the forum have put together a Trixie/Greasemonkey script which converts the fake names back into their real names, so if you have that on your browser everything is back to how it was anyway, including all Ferrari names

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