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.

Filed Under: batracer, ferrari, game, trademark
Companies: ferrari


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Nov 2009 @ 5:20am

    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!

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