Vespa versus Venti

Don’t say it was unexpected (1, 2) but 2sb has learned that Piaggio has taken some sort of legal action against Hammerhead, the importer of the Venti 150 vintage Vespa lookalike. Our source tells us “Piaggio sent Hammerhead a cease-and-desist order in regards to the Venti yesterday.” We suspect it was actually a C&D letter rather than an order (there’s a difference) or if it’s based on the design of the Venti or the marketing language used in their flyer, but either way, domestic legal action against importers is usually a safer bet than an international legal contest, especially when China is involved. The good news for Hammerhead is that they’re raking in publicity leading into Dealer Expo (just a couple weeks away), so we applaud their market savviness , if not their design and engineering.

5 thoughts on “Vespa versus Venti”

  1. Could it be Piaggio was peeved about the phrase ‘Vespa Style’ in the ad? That may the argued as a form of Trademark Infringement. You see some scoots that tout their ‘vintage Italian styling’, but they don’t come right out and say ‘Vespa’. I don’t see how they’d have any quarrel with the scoot itself. The market is lousy with scoots that have a vintage ‘look’, but the Venti is the most overtly ‘Vespalike’, but that in itself shouldn’t be actionable.

    It’s actually a pretty nice looking scoot. If Hammerhead can back it up with reasonably quality construction, reliability, and a good parts/service/support network, and do all this at a decent price point, they may just have a winner.

    But you’re right; Piaggio’s move may well give them a lot of free ‘buzz’. Time will tell.

  2. One more thought: when was the last time Piaggio was moved to take action like this against a potential competitor? If Piaggio takes Hammerhead seriously enough to do this, that’s saying something.

  3. I don’t think it’s saying that much. They have made some efforts to protect their trademarks and names in the past. Everything from scooter shops to T-shirt printers

  4. Yeah, Piaggio is litigious as f**k, when they came back to America, the first thing they did was sue every independent shop using their name in their absence, the very people who kept interest in scooters alive in the U.S. while they were gone.

    It’s all speculation, but I assume at a minimum they were angry about the phrase “Vespa Style.” But to be fair, Piaggio does have a claim to the industrial design of a Vespa, and I wouldn’t blame them for trying to protect it. There are a lot of vaguely Vespa-like scooters out there, but this is pretty much an exact replica. LML (the Stella) and Bajaj P-series clones don’t count because both were built by companies that secured rights to continue manufacturing Vespa-like scooters (without using the brand name) after their relationship with Piaggio ended.

    If I’m not mistaken, kit car manufacturers are sometimes challenged by the original manufacturers when their kits too closely emulate the design of a car. If an importer announced two weeks before the Detroit auto show that they would be displaying a $6000 vintage Ford Mustang replica with a Geely frame and engine and a plastic body, you better believe they’d be hearing from Ford.

  5. brooke, illnoise, that’s really interesting stuff. I had no idea that Piaggio was that aggressive! You’re right about the Venti really looking like a vespa. It will be very interesting to see how it plays out.

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