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Ford F-150 vs. Ferrari F150: What’s In A Name?

Posted in auto industry, Ferrari, Ford, Legal, News by Kurt Ernst | February 10th, 2011 | 8 Responses |

Even in race trim, this will NOT be on pole in Monaco. Image: Ford Motor Company

Just in case you have any confusion on the matter, allow me to clear it up: Ford’s F-150 is the best selling pickup truck in America, renown for its durability and value. Ferrari’s F150 (note the difference in spelling) is the latest F1 race car from Maranello, and it probably won’t be famous for durability or value. On the other hand, the Ferrari F150 will get around an FIA-approved road course in a whole lot less time than a Ford F-150 pickup, but won’t do you any good if you need to haul sheets of plywood. You can’t even tow a small trailer with the Ferrari, which makes it useless for weekend runs to Home Depot (not that it’s street legal in any country, anyway).

The Ferrari F150, useless for the home handyman.

Now that we’ve cleared things up, it’s not so cut-and-dried at a corporate level. When Ferrari announced that they’d call their new F1 car the Ferrari F150 (to honor the 150th anniversary of Italy’s reunification), Ford asked them politely to change the name to avoid brand confusion. Ferrari did the Italian thing, and ignored Ford’s sternly worded request; even worse, they registered the internet domain name “ferrarif150.com”, which Ford took as a slap in the face. You can guess what came next: Ford filed a lawsuit against Ferrari requesting that they cease and desist from using the F150 name and abandon the FerrariF150 domain. Ford’s seeking unspecified damages, but the cybersquatting alone could potentially result in a $100,000 judgment for Ford.

Ford values the F-150 brand as much as the Mustang brand, and the F-150 name has been in use since 1975. Ford registered F-150 as a trademark in 1995, so it looks like things won’t end well for Ferrari. Anne Marie Gattari, a Ford spokeswoman, told The Detroit News, “This is an important trademark for us and we’ve spent many years and lots of advertising resources on establishing this name and getting the trademark. It’s one we take very, very seriously. It’s one of our flagship vehicles.”

I suppose I understand Ford’s position, but Ferrari’s use of F150 is a whole lot different than if a Chinese start-up built a low end pickup and called it the F150. No one can reasonably confuse a Formula One car with a full size pickup, and it’s not like Ferrari built a road-going car with the same name. I’m sure the courts will work it out (likely in Ford’s favor), but in the mean time Ford gets to enjoy a bit of additional exposure for the F150 brand.

Source: The Detroit News

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8 Responses

  1. ds440 says:

    Yeah, I was waiting for this. There has never been any love lost between those two since the 60’s. (Nerd Alert: great book called “Go Like Hell” by AJ Blaime on the subject.) But I had to wonder what Ferrari was thinking when they went with the F150 name? Obviously the name isn’t nearly as recognizable in Europe, but North America is one of their top markets. Although to be fair, the F1 car isn’t a production car…and like you said, no one would confuse the two.

    • Kurt Ernst says:

      ds, it looks like Ferrari is backing down a bit and agreeing to call their F1 car the “F150 th Italia”; I seriously doubt that will satisfy Ford.

      Maybe it’ll piss them off enough to build a new halo car and name it the F-458…

      • ds440 says:

        LOL. The new Enzo Taurus, perhaps? I was expecting you to say that Ferrari renamed the car the “Prancing Mustang GT” or something just to goad Ford even more. Or maybe they just go in a totally new direction and call it the “Ferrari Ram 1500.”

  2. Jen says:

    There’s a joke somewhere in here about the F-150 on top of the Ferarri 458 from a week ago, I just can’t seem to find it (ba-dum-bump!) Sorry but this is lame of Ford, imo. Get over it, no one is confusing a truck for a racecar

  3. Taylor says:

    Maybe they could put the arguments aside and work together on a joint venture, special edition, Ferrari massaged EcoBoost V6. Ford could then market the special edition of the truck as F150. All things being equal to the F-150 except that little plasti-chrome badge that shows that this F150 has a little something special in it.

    And everyone lives happily ever after.

    • Kurt Ernst says:

      Taylor, think of all the Ford technology Ferrari could license. They could add Synch to the F150th, so drivers could shift via voice commands. Even better, if they adopted “MyKey” they could limit Massa’s top speed and avoid the whole “team orders” debacle…

  4. Geo says:

    I am so pissed off, i thought i was getting a truck when buying my F150 and all i get was this ferrari!

  5. Gabriele says:

    Well well well… Ferrari 150° ITALIA :-P which I like even more ahahhaha… poor Ford ahahhaha they are so ridiculus:

    This is a note from ferrari website:”In order to avoid the slightest risk of anyone confusing a Formula 1 car with a pick-up truck, for their part, the men from Maranello have decided that the car will lose the F that precedes the number 150 and which stands for Ferrari, as it has done on numerous occasions when it’s come to giving a car a code name, be it for the race track or the road. It appears that this could have caused so much confusion in the minds of the consumer across the Pond that, at the same time as losing the F, the name will be completely Italianised, replacing the English “th” with the equivalent Italian symbol.

    Therefore the name will now read as the Ferrari 150° Italia, which should make it clear even to the thickest of people that the name of the car is a tribute to the anniversary of the unification of our country. Let’s hope the matter is now definitely closed and that we can concentrate on more serious matters, namely ensuring that our car that already seems to be pretty good out of the box, becomes a real winner”.

    but the most important thing of this article is: “The Horse Whisperer – The name changes but not the sense”