Ford is suing companies for use of Mustang name?

Discussion in '1965 - 1973 Classic Mustangs -General/Talk-' started by jeffnoel, May 12, 2006.


  1. jeffnoel

    jeffnoel Founding Member

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    Check this out........ Ford is suing companies that use trademark names such as "Mustang" ( can I say that now? ) in their trading name. Companies such as "Mustangs Plus" are being ordered to stop using the name in all correspondence and advertising and pay $10,000 in damages.

    Ford also states they may go after clubs and publications as well !!!!

    Here's a link to the story. http://www.recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060510/MONEY/605100302&SearchID=73244336366752

    I have copied the text here also as they have moved the story a couple times and the link may not be working.

    Mustang mayhem
    Stockton firm faces suit by Ford for trademark violation

    MICHELLE MACHADO
    Record Staff Writer
    Published Wednesday, May 10, 2006

    Mustangs Plus owner Ron Bramlett sits with one of the Mustangs that he provides parts for Tuesday. The Stockton parts store was ordered by Ford Motor Co. lawyers to stop using the sports car name.

    STOCKTON - Mustangs Plus Inc., which has spent 25 years building up its specialty parts business under the Mustang moniker, now must tear that trademark from its business and Internet domain names or face a suit by Ford Motor Co.

    Compliance with Ford's demands will negatively impact company value in the present and company sales in the future, said Ron Bramlett, a partner in family-owned Mustangs Plus at 2353 N. Wilson Way in Stockton.

    "I was a young man when I started this. You work half your life and then have it ******ed," said Bramlett, 52.

    Ford also is trying to protect the value of the business it has built since 1903, said Gregory Phillips, a partner in the firm that drafted the cease and desist letter.

    "The courts have recognized that a trademark name such as Mustang is an important asset of Ford Motor Co.," Phillips said.

    The Feb. 16 letter from Howard, Phillips and Andersen, a Utah law firm representing Ford on intellectual property enforcement matters, asked Mustangs Plus to:

    » Transfer to the automaker the registration for mustangsplus.com.

    » Submit to government offices all forms necessary to discontinue registration of the Mustangs Plus name.

    » Cancel Internet and telephone directory listings and advertising under the Mustangs Plus name.

    » Turn over for destruction all signs, banners, business cards and collateral materials.

    » Issue a check to Ford for $10,000 in damages.

    Since 2000, the firm has sent "hundreds" of similar letters to businesses perceived to have trampled on Ford trademarks, Phillips said.

    Ford has been successful in collecting damages in most of those cases.

    While most businesses settle out-of-court, about 50 lawsuits have been filed, and all of those were resolved in Ford's favor, according to Phillips.

    The scope of trademark infringement actions could be widened to include publications and organizations that use Mustang and other Ford trademarks, he said.

    In the 1990's, Ford sent guidelines to selected restoration parts manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers, including Mustangs Plus, authorizing the use of trademarked names as long the business name was accompanied by a qualifying word or phrase such as "vintage" or "classic."

    Bramlett and his partners believed Mustangs Plus met that criteria, and a decade of silence from Ford quarters deemed confirmation.

    Bramlett believes that the use of the Mustang name by those unaffiliated with Ford amounts to free advertising.

    "I have to believe in those years Mustang was glad to have people use the name," Bramlett said.

    That argument has been rejected by the courts, Phillips said.

    Harry Pulliam, owner of Mustang and Muscle Parts in Oakdale, in the mid-1980's received a letter similar to the one recently delivered to Mustangs Plus.

    "I told them a long time ago I would be willing to sell Chevy parts," he said.

    Now, two decades later, a legal battle would hardly be worth his while.

    "I would just quit," he said.

    Intellectual property is a gray area of the law, said Gregg Meath, a Stockton attorney who teaches Internet and computer law at University of the Pacific's McGeorge School of Law.

    Meath said that Mustang Plus' use of the trademark is likely fair since it is descriptive and does not imply affiliation with Ford.

    "How else are they to tell people what it is they do?" he said.

    But, he said, a court battle would be a "big guy vs. little guy" fight that would cost Mustangs Plus tens of thousands of dollars.

    "We try to wear the white hats and be reasonable," Phillips said. "It's already bad when you have a big company come after a little company."

    For now, Mustangs Plus and Ford are at a stalemate.

    "We've spent some time with our attorney, who has spent some time with them. It's very costly and it's going nowhere," Bramlett said.

    Phillips also voiced frustration with the lack of resolution.

    "Ford is not trying to put this guy out of business. We've offered Mustangs Plus a reasonable transition period of three to six months.

    Mustangs Plus partners, who include Bramlett's brother, David, will likely not sign the Ford agreement, viewing such an action as an admission of guilt,

    But they have decided to rename the business using the word "restomod," a term referring to car restoration and modification that Mustangs Plus copyrighted.

    The wording of the final name has yet to be ironed out, though: That decision must wait for another business to relinquish its hold on the "restomod" moniker.


    Contact reporter Michelle Machado at (209) 943-8547 or [email protected]
  2. Cannoball888

    Cannoball888 New Member

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    It's hard to believe Ford would do something like that, because like Brammet said, Mustang restoration parts businesses are not robbing Ford of anything, but giving the Ford company free advertising, and it's also the only way to tell the public what the restoration parts company actually does.

    Ford is being really, really petty.
  3. fvike

    fvike Member

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    Yeah, this is bad PR for Ford.
    Btw, can they do that with a name like "Mustang", that is a regular word, and is in use in daily speech? I could understand it better if ie. Mazda was to protect "Rx-7" (a name they invented, it's not a word) in this manner, but this is stupid.:notnice:
  4. bnickel

    bnickel Founding Member

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    i think i may sell every ford car and part i own and buy dodge products for the rest of my life. Ford can kiss my ass, because of what they are doing it is going to cost me more to buy parts for my cars and i won't have any part of it. i have always been a loyal ford guy but no longer after this BS.
  5. PonyboyIsaac

    PonyboyIsaac New Member

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    yeah this is bs, are they gonna make websites like mustangtuning change there name? dallas mustang? sacramento mustang? what a crock of chit
  6. Max Power

    Max Power New Member

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    Ford, Harley, MOPAR and GM have been situationally aggressive over the years with this stuff. I remember people getting arrested at Carlisle for sell decals and manuals that weren't licensed, and it was GM that was doing it.
  7. Cobra5.0Jeep

    Cobra5.0Jeep Member

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    Thats hella dumb, i wonder what idiot in FORD thought that one up.
  8. Bullitt 2597

    Bullitt 2597 New Member

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    The only way to get Ford's attention is to write not email Bill Ford and let him know how you feel. This will cause many businesses to fail just bacause of the $10 K fine attached to this. Ultimately, it will create higher prices for aftermarket parts.

    Here is the address. If everyone wirtes it will make a difference. If a few it will not matter. Also, if you have any friends in the press get the word out to them to do stories on this. The more bad press the better!!!

    William Clay Ford, Jr.
    Ford Motor Company
    P.O. Box 685
    Dearborn, MI 48126-0685
  9. StangDreamin'

    StangDreamin' Founding Member

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    Un-effing-believable! Multiple companies are out there using the name of Ford's phenomenon; while they're promoting themselves, they're still undoubtedly promoting the sales of a continuing Ford product. So Ford sues them for what amounts to free advertising! :crazy:

    I always thought that Bramlett should be slapped around a little for copyrighting "Restomod" (was he/his ad agency really the first to coin that term?); but gimme a break!

    Perhaps North American Aviation (or its assigns) should drop the same lawsuit on Ford for 41 years of profiting on the name of North American's P-51 fighter plane :D
  10. mdjay

    mdjay Premium Sponsor

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    This needs the attention of the main stream media! It's been buried for over 6 mos now!
  11. fox-gt

    fox-gt Member

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    You know these companies are going (doh)

    Virgina Mustang
    Texas Mustang
    Dallas Mustang
    California Mustang
    Laurel Mountain Mustang
    Kentucky Mustang
    Sacramento Mustang
    Mustangs Unlimited
  12. Dark Knight

    Dark Knight Founding Member

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    Wonder if they could change the name to mu'stang, or just stang...restostang?

    As for restomod being copyrighted, I think it's mac that has catback copyrighted, nobody else can use it, including magazines.
  13. Realmongo

    Realmongo I prefer to be called "Evil Genius" Founding Member

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    I think Ford is being very short-sighted in this if it is true, as it could lead to a back-lash against future Mustang sales in the long run. These companies for years have promoted Mustangs to the enthusists and gave the buyer a reason to purchase the car in the way of popular events and accessories.

    Bad Ford!
    :notnice:
  14. Carls69coupe

    Carls69coupe New Member

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    I understand why big companies like Ford do this to protect their IP, but they also need to consider the bad Public relations damage this can cause to an American icon like Mustang, curious how this seems to be so timely when they have a marketing hit with the new generation Mustang. Ford needs to realize how small companies like "Mustangs Plus" and all the others actually fuel and promote the Legend of the Mustang-they should embrace and help make these companies successful which build on the market by offering easy parts access to the hobbiest. It was because of this easy parts access that I decided to restore my '69 Coupe and from that excitment I continued my love affair with the "Mustang" by laying out $30,000+ of my hard earned money for a new 06 GT which was a direct "Profit" to Fords bottom line, which is exactly what I think Ford would want.
    Hold fast "Mustangs Plus"-God bless the American Small Business, the back bone of the American Economy.:flag:
  15. strange65

    strange65 New Member

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    Ford did lose the right's to the GT40 and the Futura name . I guess they are just protecting the mustang name tag. Since the mustang is the moneymaker in thier stable. I would protect it too, and do the same for Shelby and Cobra.
  16. jikelly

    jikelly Advanced Member

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    What the hell?? Is this for real? Down right dumb if it is. I mean what the hell are those companies going to be called if they can't use mustang in their titles anymore?

    I would figure the negative backlash from the diehard mustang junkies, like us would be very bad for Ford's buisness. The mustang and the many mustang owners are critical to Ford. Take a look at thier stock history. Each time a new mustang came out their stock value jumped.

    Someone should get Muscle Mustangs or one of the other mustang magazines to do a story on this.
  17. mdjay

    mdjay Premium Sponsor

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    Spoke to Donald Farr about it last week and it will be his editorial in the July issue of Mustang Monthly coming out next month.
  18. Cannoball888

    Cannoball888 New Member

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    Can't wait to read it. Maybe Ford will stop this craziness after seeing it in a national publication.

    Not if they change their names to:

    Virgina Moosetang
    Texas Mushtang
    Dallas Mustank
    California Muztang
    Laurel Mountain Musstang
    Kentucky Mustangg
    Sacramento Must-ang
    Mustingz Unlimited

    Hmmm. Doesn't really work to convey what these businesses actually do.
  19. 65up2d8

    65up2d8 Member

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    Cannonball888, please include the name of our esteemed colleague's company on your list of companies, namely Mustang Depot, which is owned by MDJAY, who has posted on this very thread. MDJAY is a down to earth guy and a real asset we have at our disposal on this forum.
    I don't see owners of the other companies posting on here and helping enthusiasts by sharing their knowledge, and although, in the past, I have bought a lot of parts from Mustangs Plus, I don't intend to do so in the future. Ron Bramlett has only appeared on this forum when his company was under attack, and although I agreed that his company was being somewhat unfairly attacked, I would have appreciated some continued association with this forum on his part. I feel much worse for a guy like MDJAY who quite obviously loves this hobby and the people involved in it than I do about the people who are just involved in it to make a buck.
  20. Max Power

    Max Power New Member

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    Unfortunately, while I applaud the efforts of Donald Farr, I think a little article in a Mustang Enthusiast magazine will have little effect on public opinion, in the big picture, anyway.

    Ford too has been a victim of this. They lost the name to the GT40 when a private party licensed the name to squat on it and try to get cash from Ford for it. That is also why Ford tractors were called Fordsons for years. Henry Ford was not about to pay some privateer for the use of his name on his own tractors, so he just called them Fordsons.

    Anybody in the publishing industry already knows that Ford, in doing this, has changed little in the last 20 years. If your car calendar has even one picture of a Ford product in it, be prepared to get a call from their lawyers.

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