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Ferrari Loses Trademark Case to Builder in Own Town

Ferrari is very protective of its brand. Most manufacturers are. So, when a company in the same town the manufacturer is based out of, Modena, started offering rebodied Ferrari models as their own, things got legal very quickly. Ferrari launched a court case to have the offending company stop its production. Interestingly, Ferrari just lost that case.

The profile of a red Aries Panther.
Ares Panther, a tribute to the DeTomaso Pantera and built on a Lamborghini Huracan | Hagerty

What company did Ferrari lose to?

Ares Design is a custom automotive builder. In the past, they have rebodied a Lamborghini to look like a modern-day interpretation of the DeTomas Pantera. So, they are no stranger to the artistry and craftsmanship involved in high-end exotic Italian car making. The Panther ProgrettoUno, as it was called, was limited to 70 copies of the $700,000 carbon-fiber bodied sportscar. Ares also tweaked the engine performance, the exhaust, and the clutch of the car. So, essentially, the whole car was modified somehow by the company. That project began back in 2017.

In 2018, Ares Design decided to build on its success with ProgrettoUno by offering rebodied Ferrari F12 or 812 Superfast models. The plan was to use the Ferrari models as a base to make a tribute to the famous Ferrari 250 GTO. Like the Panther before it, their new car would be a modern interpretation of a past classic. The plan was to build ten of them and offer them at $1.3 million.

The front of a red Ares Panther is seen as the car sits by a building.
Ares Panther, a tribute to the DeTomaso Pantera and built on a Lamborghini Huracan | Hagerty

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The beginning of the legal fight

Ferrari did not like the Ares Design idea and decided to protect its brand by making a legal filing. So, the automaker got lawyers involved pretty quickly, and a lengthy court battle began. The argument was that the 250 GTO is a protected shape under trademark law. According to Hagerty, the first court ruling went in favor of Ferrari. The Italian court judgment protected the Ferrari GTO as a work of art. 

A sketch of the proposed Ares Design tribute to the Ferrari 250 GTO
A sketch of the proposed Ares Design tribute to the Ferrari 250 GTO | Ares Design

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Why is the Ferrari 250 GTO such a big deal

The Ferrari 250 GTO is one of the world’s most valuable cars. Auctions in recent years of the rare cars have seen values skyrocket. In 2018, a numbers matching 1962 model sold at an RM Sotheby’s auction for $44 million, plus auction fees. The video of that sale is below.

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The court ruling was not the end of the matter. Ares Design continued the court fight at the next level. This time Hagerty says,

“Ares Design argued that Ferrari had not used the shape of the 250 GTO for a continuous five year period, convincing the Cancellation Division of the European Union Intellectual Property Office.”

A sketch of the rear of the proposed Ares Design tribute to the Ferrari 250 GTO
A sketch of the proposed Ares Design tribute to the Ferrari 250 GTO | Ares Design

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Is it over, or will there be more court filings? 

It remains to be seen if there is another court challenge that Ferrari’s lawyers will be able to put forward. It also remains to be seen if Ares will now go forward with the tribute builds. In either case, family dinners in the town of Modena, Italy, are going to be tricky since both Ferrari and Ares Design are located in the town. Expect there to be more to this story. 

What do you think? Is Ferrari being overly protective? Or, is Ares Design on thin ice?