This story about a Mustang Club being told by Ford that they were not allowed to publish photos of their own cars just seems like some sort of silly mix-up, but it’s probably only a matter of time before Piaggio tries the same thing. When Piaggio returned to the U.S., they sued several long-time Vespa shops, including dealers that had been around since the last Vespa invasion, for using “Vespa” in their name. They’ve also blocked several Café Press users and other folks selling Vespa merchandise. Every company has every right to defend their intellectual property, and block people from cashing in on their trademarks and copyrighted designs, but to crack down on a club of enthusiasts for publishing photographs of their own vehicles and preventing them from using a brand name to describe events or clubs is ridiculous. Sure, Harley-Davidson has lost some cash over the years to the underground biker community, but it’s that same underground biker community that’s kept their brand alive through thick and thin for a hundred years. The same could be said of Vespa enthusiasts, but in Piaggio’s never ending search for profits, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a similar crackdown soon.
Update: The matter has been resolved. Thanks, Becky! But this still doesn’t bode well for clubs and enthusiasts, I think we can expect more battles in the future.