Ford: Car owners are pirates if they distribute pictures of their own cars

Ford: Car owners are pirates if they distribute pictures of their own cars – Boing Boing
Fester points at this legal head-scratcher on Boing Boing.

“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.””

I’d send 8 x 10 glossies of laptops, keyboards and towers to Lenovo’s fans if they wanted to have a calendar printer. Better yet, go to our Flicker stream and take what you need.

Author: David Churbuck

Cape Codder with an itch to write

0 thoughts on “Ford: Car owners are pirates if they distribute pictures of their own cars”

  1. Damn good thing Volkswagen bus pix aren’t copyrighted or considered “graven images.” I’d be doing time in the RIAA joint if they were.


  2. I think the pertinent part of the article is here:

    “I got some more info from the folks at cafepress and according to them, a law firm representing Ford contacted them saying that our calendar pics (and our club’s event logos – anything with one of our cars in it) infringes on Ford’s trademarks which include the use of images of THEIR vehicles.”

    I read somewhere else that a similar issue came up with I think with a classic Jaguar club wanting to produce a calendar.

    Ford really just has it all wrong. They DON’T reach out to enthusiasts. None of their vehicles, except Mustang and the trucks, have any identity. They have no social media presence, while GM is doing an EXCEPTIONAL job of reaching out to bloggers AND has several blogs. Toyota has an awesome corporate blog and Chrysler’s is okay. The only thing Ford has coming for it are the new “Ecoboost” (terrible name) engines which incorporate direct injection & turbocharging with smaller displacement motors to make the power of a high displacement motor with fewer emissions & better fuel economy.

    As more of an example about enthusiasts, there is a huge culture built behind muscle cars. The F-body (aka Camaro/Firebird) is arguably one of the largest, perhaps second only to the Mustang. GM has employees out there on enthusiast forums interacting with their target audience for the new Camaro, answering what questions they can, etc. These guys have responded to criticisms of the spy shots leaked and supported these communities in a way I was surprised to learn about. They literally said that the new Camaro is being designed as THE enthusiast’s automobile. While not saying much in words, this means leaps & bounds to gear heads. GM is truly a step above the rest when it comes to social media.

    {shameless plug}
    More of my thoughts on the domestic auto industry here.
    {/shameless plug}

  3. My name is Whitney Drake and I work in Ford Communications.

    We’ve been watching this discussion with interest and I’d like to clarify what is essentially a misunderstanding.

    Yesterday we spoke to both Cafe Press and the Black Mustang Club and explained the situation (about the Black Mustang Club’s calendar) to everyone’s satisfaction. Ford has no problem with Mustang or other car owners taking pictures of their vehicles for use in club materials like calendars. What we do have an issue with are individuals using Ford’s logo and other trademarks for products they intend to sell. Understandably, we have to take the protection of our brands and licensing very seriously.

    Ford did not send the Black Mustang Club a “cease and desist” letter telling them that they could not use images of their own cars in their calendar. The decision not to allow the calendars to be printed was made by Cafe Press, because we had gotten in touch with them in the past about trademark infringements on products they sold.

    The Black Mustang Club, and any other Ford enthusiast club, are free to take pictures of their own vehicles for use in calendars or other materials as long as they don’t use Ford trademarks in products that will be sold.

    I think it is great that the Black Mustang Club, and any other enthusiast club, would take pictures of their own vehicles for use in calendars or other materials.

    I’m looking forward to purchasing a copy to hang in the garage next to my Mustang (even if mine isn’t black).

    Thanks for giving us the chance to have our say.

  4. Whitney,
    Thanks for clarifying. So, if a Ford fan tries to create a CafePress product with a visible Ford logo or trademark, are they cool or not?

  5. I think the point here is protection of the trademark. As long as it is clear that the calendar being published is not a Ford product and that the club is not directly associated with Ford everything will be kosher.

    Having a Ford badge on the car photograph is not the issue.

    If, for instance, the club asked Café Press to put a blue Ford oval as part of the heading or title of the calendar that would clearly violate Ford’s trademark rights. It would be giving the impression that the calendar is a Ford product, which it is not.

    I know of cases where a truck dealership that sold Peterbuilt trucks decided to use the characteristics of the Peterbuilt logo and script in their own dealership signage and were called to task by Peterbuilt.

    I expect that as long as the design and layout of the calendar does not imply that either the club or the calendar is representing Ford itself that there will be any problem.

    In China you can find a car company there that comes close to copying the BMW blue, black, and white hood badge. Porsche’s famous 911 designation came about because Ferrari claimed trademark rights to 901.

    Sounds like Café Press was the gun shy party here.

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