More on toy models as trademark infringements
Josh sez, “The folks at BMC (Black Mustang Club) automotive forum wanted to put together a calendar featuring members’ cars, and print it through CafePress. Photos were submitted, the layout was set, and… CafePress notifies the site admin that pictures of Ford cars cannot be printed. Not just Ford logos, not just Mustang logos, the car — as a whole — is a Ford trademark and its image can’t be reproduced without permission. So even though Ford has a lineup of enthusiasts who want to show off their Ford cars, the company is bent on alienating them. ‘Them’ being some of the most loyal owners and future buyers that they have. Or rather, that they had, because many have decided that they will not be doing business with Ford again if this matter isn’t resolved.”
We’ve touched on the issue of whether toy models are infringements of the products they depict, even granting that the trademarks apply to the products themselves. In the case of a Ford car, it seems pretty clear that they do; in the case of a railroad locomotive manufactured by a third party but bearing the logo of a given line, it seems a dubious proposition indeed.
But Big IP is, after all, insatiable… and many big companies, not necessarily Big IP, but in struggling businesses such as, oh, automobile manufacturing and railroads, are looking at their dubious core businesses and deciding it’s time to “exploit the IP portfolio” to buy time till the next bailout or merger — and there you have it.
Fun in our age is only available via a written license, with royalties, reversions and attorneys’ fees upon breach.
UPDATE: Much ado about nothing, or a climb-down by Ford?