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Ferrari Loses Trademark Fight For World’s Most Expensive Car

Written by: HBS Intellectual Property Team

Ferrari just lost a landmark trademark battle with an Italian rival auto maker over its 250 GTO, one of its most coveted sports cars that typically fetches 50 million pounds ($65 million USD) when one comes up for private sale or auction.

The decision by the European Union’s Intellectual Property Office essentially cancels Ferrari’s trademark that it has held since 2007 on the grounds that the automaker hasn’t used the trademark on its automobiles since the 1960s.

The trademark was for the iconic curvy shape of the 250 GTO, which is popular among collectors and has been featured in movies such as The Da Vinci Code starring Tom Hanks.

In making its decision, the EU’s IPO focused on Article 58(1)(a) EUTMR, which holds that a European Union trademark can be revoked if the trademark has not been put to genuine use over a period of five years.

In the dispute brought by Ares Design, a custom car shop located not far from Ferrari’s headquarters, the smaller company argued that Ferrari hadn’t used the 250 GTO trademark for more than five years and thus it should be canceled under EU intellectual property law.

It was a similar argument that the Irish fast food chain, “Supermacs” successfully used against McDonald’s last year over its trademark for “Big Mac.”

Incidentally, Ferrari still retains the trademark for the 250 GTO for a one kind of automobile that it has continually used for many years — toy cars.

Small die cast models of the 250 GTO luxury auto can be found at retailers such as Target for less than $30.