F-150 – it is the name of Ford’s iconic best-selling pickup, and also happens to be the name of Ferrari’s latest F1 racing car. The new race car was introduced last month, and the name caused many to do a double take. The choice of the name was curious, but not without reason. The car’s F150 nameplate comes from 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy.
It isn’t often that Ferraris and Fords are confused, but that is exactly what Ford has claimed in its in a lawsuit. Following introduction of the racing car, Ford contacted Ferrari about a name change. Ferrari declined and Ford resorted to legal action. Ford issued the following statement:
“F-150® is an established and important Ford trademark and the name of the best-seller in Ford’s F-Series, America’s best-selling trucks for 34 years and best-selling vehicles for 29 years. Through extensive sales and advertising and exclusive use, Ford has earned invaluable goodwill in the F-150® trademark. That hard-won goodwill is seriously threatened by Ferrari’s adoption of “F150.”
When Ferrari announced the name of its race car as “F150,” Ford asked Ferrari to change the name. Ferrari did not respond in a timely manner, leaving Ford no choice but to take legal action to protect its important brand and trademark rights.”
In response, Ferrari released its own statement, outlining a change to the car’s name.
“On the subject of the name of the new Ferrari Formula 1 car, the Maranello company wishes to point out that it has sent a letter of reply to Ford, underlining the fact that the F150 designation (used as the abbreviated version of the complete name, which is Ferrari F150th Italia) never has, nor ever will be used as the name of a commercially available product – indeed there will definitely not be a production run of single-seaters. In fact, it has always been the case in the history of Scuderia names, that they represent the nomenclature of a racing car project and are linked to a chronological order with a technical basis, or in exceptional cases, to special occasions. This year, the decision was taken to dedicate the car name to a particularly significant event, the 150th anniversary of the Unification of Italy, an event of such great importance that the Italian government has declared, for this year only, a national holiday.
For these reasons, Ferrari believes that its own contender in the forthcoming F1 championship cannot be confused with other types of commercially available vehicle of any sort whatsoever, nor can it give the impression that there is a link to another brand of road-going vehicle. Therefore it is very difficult to understand Ford’s viewpoint on the matter.
Despite this and to further prove it is acting in good faith and that it operates in a completely correct manner, Ferrari has decided to ensure that in all areas of operation, the abbreviated version will be replaced at all times with the full version, Ferrari F150 th Italia.”
So there it is – Ferrari’s response is extremely quick as Ford just filed the lawsuit on Wednesday, February 9th. The situation is interesting as there is likely to be little confusion as Ferrari’s car is meant purely for the race track, and not as a production vehicle.
However, trademark law requires that Ford actively protect its trademarks, or risk losing them. There has no doubt the moniker has been established as Ford’s – bringing up Ferrari’s racecar does bring to mind Ford’s pickup. That is what formed the centerpiece of Ford’s argument. The F-150 pickup IS the only model you should think of when you hear the name – and Ford can’t allow it to be any other way.