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.
3 thoughts on “Ford blocks publication of Mustang club calendar”
I believe in the big scheme of things they have to do it. If they don’t consistently protect their copyright they’ll have a tougher time protecting it when someone really rips them off. I was thinking there should be some sort of free license for enthusiasts or clubs but then any infringing group could just call themselves a club and get a free pass that would be harder to discredit. One would think there would be some fair use of your own property but I don’t know where that line is drawn. Cafe Press has a lot more to lose if they are included in litigation so I can see why they do their duty for their business and refuse to print. It would be in their interest to come up with a posted set of rules or guidelines so in the future it’s easier for their customers to tell if they have something that will go through before they put a lot of work into (of course with clear statement that there are not guarantees with the posted guidelines). I say to hell with them and let them do their own advertising. Support better original scooter art from the greats like Reid and Bedell!
I believe there was an update to this story and Ford is OK with the club publishing their calendar.
here it is: http://www.boingboing.net/2008/01/25/black-mustang-club-c.html
(you’ve got to put boingboing in your feed, just run a script that hides anything “steampunk” or “disneyland” (two of Cory Doctorow’s favorite things.)
The phrase, “…as long as they don’t use Ford trademarks in products that will be sold.” in the Ford PR letter seems to be vague. Do they have to remove logos from cars? Does the trademark have to appear alone for it to be wrong in their eyes? They’ve written it nice and vague by no mistake. I wouldn’t fault Cafe Press at all. They may be big in their niche’, but litigation like this could drain them in a hurry. If I were a share-holder in the company I sure as hell wouldn’t want to roll the dice on the business over a car club calendar even if the odds were in my favor. Would the same rules apply to some group wanting to publish a calendar called, “friends don’t let friends drive fords” with pictures of junkers, itemized repair bills and sad people?
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