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Thread: Ford Decides You Cannot Photograph "Their" Cars

  1. #1

    Ford Decides You Cannot Photograph "Their" Cars

    Ripped shamelessly from Slashdot:

    "In a move that can only be described as 'Copyright Insanity', Ford Motor Company now claims that they hold the rights to any image of a Ford vehicle, even if it's a picture you took of your own car. The Black Mustang Club wanted to put together a calendar featuring member's cars and print it through CafePress, but an attorney from Ford nixed the project, stating that the calendar pics and 'anything with one of (member's) cars in it infringes on Ford's trademarks which include the use of images of their vehicles.' Does Ford have the right to prevent you from printing images of a car you own?"

    Apparently they've been doing a lot of this. Below is a copy of another letter they've sent out:

    "Although you and your members may own the Ford automobile, you do not own the rights to the trade dress. Taking pictures of any Ford automobiles, placing them on products (i.e. calendar, mugs, t-shirts, etc.) and making them available to the public for sale is an infringement of Ford's intellectual property rights."

    "Because of the cachet of the world-famous Ford name, thousands of independent businesses and people make a living from or pursue a hobby related to Ford products and services. Unfortunately, many of these businesses improperly attempt to affiliate themselves with Ford by using Ford trademarks and trade dress (for instance, the depictions or photographs of Ford's distinctively shaped vehicles) in advertising their products and services."

    "If a business not affiliated with Ford uses any Ford trademark, whether through the use of photographs, depictions or silhouettes, or any confusingly similar variation thereof, without Ford's express, written consent, then that business is violating Federal and state trademarks laws."

    "It is also not sufficient for a business to state that it is not affiliated with Ford but continue to use Ford trademarks without permission. The business is still misappropriating the goodwill and reputation developed by Ford, and attempting to capitalize on or profit from Ford's goodwill and reputation. Even with the best of intentions, unauthorized use of another company's trademark is against the law."

    "At times Ford enthusiasts question why Ford is so adamant about policing it's trademarks and preventing unauthorized uses or infringements of them. It is quite common for someone who is using a trademark without permission to say, "I'm giving Ford free advertising, so why does Ford care?" Ford cares because it is important that Ford be able to exercise control over the quality of the product or service bearing Ford's trademarks."

    "To protect the value of its trademarks, Ford is obligated to object to and pursue unauthorized uses of its trademarks and trade dress, even if the use of the trademark or trade dress does not appear offensive or objectionable."

    Almost makes me mad enough to tell them I simply wont involve myself in anything with their cars anymore - and they've just lost a bit more press.
    '06 Lotus Elise, '07 Saturn Sky Redline

  2. #2

    Re: Ford Decides You Cannot Photograph "Their" Cars

    thought I'd reply to myself here and state that I've actually run into this
    I used to have an online shop with some t-shirts I made up. One t-shirt contained a picture of a primered bumper, with no distinguishing (car-wise) features, and no logo. I got a C&D letter from Ford insisting that I remove it as it infringed on their trademark (the bumper was NOT from a ford car, nor from a ford-owned brand).
    '06 Lotus Elise, '07 Saturn Sky Redline

  3. #3
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Ford Decides You Cannot Photograph "Their" Cars

    Crikey...

    If this is true, it's staggeringly obnoxious.

    And I can't see how Ford can assert ownership rights ... to something Ford no longer owns. So they designed it? So what? If I buy, say, the Chrysler Building in NYC, I can sell pictures of it if I want to because (duhhhh) it's mine. The architect/his heirs may have designed how it looks, but unless they put a covenant in the purchase agreement, once it's bought, they have no stake itn it.

    "F" Ford - if this is true.

    I'd like to see them try to enforce it in a court...

  4. #4
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Ford Decides You Cannot Photograph "Their" Cars

    Quote Originally Posted by damen
    thought I'd reply to myself here and state that I've actually run into this
    I used to have an online shop with some t-shirts I made up. One t-shirt contained a picture of a primered bumper, with no distinguishing (car-wise) features, and no logo. I got a C&D letter from Ford insisting that I remove it as it infringed on their trademark (the bumper was NOT from a ford car, nor from a ford-owned brand).
    It's total bullshit.

    I wonder if GM will want a piece of my last book... since there's a picture of my Trans-Am in it....?

  5. #5
    D_E_Davis
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    Re: Ford Decides You Cannot Photograph "Their" Cars

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    I'd like to see them try to enforce it in a court...
    The problem is Ford has attorneys on staff, while the average shopkeeper has to hire one, at vast expense, to fend off this asinine intrusion.


  6. #6
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Ford Decides You Cannot Photograph "Their" Cars

    Quote Originally Posted by D_E_Davis
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    I'd like to see them try to enforce it in a court...
    The problem is Ford has attorneys on staff, while the average shopkeeper has to hire one, at vast expense, to fend off this asinine intrusion.

    Quite so...

    But, again, I wonder whether it's enforceable... what if one just ignores the C&D letters? Can they actually do anything about it?

    And while we're at it, shouldn't Ford get a cut of each and every future re-sale? ???

    Especially if an ad showing the car's image is used to make the sale?

  7. #7

    Re: Ford Decides You Cannot Photograph "Their" Cars

    the issue is that ford trademarks the appearance of their cars
    the way trademarks work is, if you dont actively defend your trademark, you lose it
    so they have to go after everyone who uses it without authorization...
    or do they?

    they COULD simply license (for free, or even a ridiculously tiny) fee these clubs to use the image, thereby maintaining their trademark

    of course, all of this is supposing that Ford is actually correct in claiming this as trademark infringement. I think if taken to court they would lose.
    '06 Lotus Elise, '07 Saturn Sky Redline

  8. #8
    D_E_Davis
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    Re: Ford Decides You Cannot Photograph "Their" Cars

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    And while we're at it, shouldn't Ford get a cut of each and every future re-sale?Especially if an ad showing the car's image is used to make the sale?
    I think you've hit on it - Ford's been running at a deficit, and they've found a novel way to boost their income.


  9. #9
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Ford Decides You Cannot Photograph "Their" Cars

    Quote Originally Posted by D_E_Davis
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    And while we're at it, shouldn't Ford get a cut of each and every future re-sale?Especially if an ad showing the car's image is used to make the sale?
    I think you've hit on it - Ford's been running at a deficit, and they've found a novel way to boost their income.

    Damen's right - it's a real turn off.

    If they lose some sales over it, they deserve it.

    If they had half a brain, they'd realize that the positive PR (and good feeling) that comes from having, for example, calendars featuring vintage Fords, is worth a lot more than hassling people over the use of "their" likeness, etc.

  10. #10
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    Re: Ford Decides You Cannot Photograph "Their" Cars

    Quote Originally Posted by D_E_Davis
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    I'd like to see them try to enforce it in a court...
    The problem is Ford has attorneys on staff, while the average shopkeeper has to hire one, at vast expense, to fend off this asinine intrusion.

    The old "we may be wrong but we'll bankrupt you before you can prove it" ploy. The big boys do it all the time in litigation between unequals.

  11. #11
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    Re: Ford Decides You Cannot Photograph "Their" Cars

    Why has nobody mentioned the TV writers?

    Who owns the 'value'?

  12. #12
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    Re: Ford Decides You Cannot Photograph "Their" Cars

    Quote Originally Posted by damen

    ....

    "To protect the value of its trademarks, Ford is obligated to object to and pursue unauthorized uses of its trademarks and trade dress, even if the use of the trademark or trade dress does not appear offensive or objectionable."

    Almost makes me mad enough to tell them I simply wont involve myself in anything with their cars anymore - and they've just lost a bit more press.
    Not so long ago there was some talk about the car makers wanting to tie up all design with copyright. Their hope was to put the non-OEM parts people out of business or at least extract fees from them. This would not have much effect on the generics such as wires, plugs, filters, etc., but would be bad news in the body repair business.

    The behavior described makes perfect sense if the aim is to eventually tie up everything.

  13. #13
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    Re: Ford Decides You Cannot Photograph "Their" Cars

    Quote Originally Posted by jdm

    The behavior described makes perfect sense if the aim is to eventually tie up everything.
    Our attempt to make copyright work with Jaguar E-Types fell whem our mercenary Wallloons to umbrage at US food.

  14. #14
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    Re: Ford Decides You Cannot Photograph "Their" Cars

    Most manufacturers nowadays will only allow model-makers to sell models of their cars under licence. It's a problem for small model-making companies as the cost of the licence can be prohibitive if they are only making small runs, often only a few dozen.

  15. #15
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    Re: Ford Decides You Cannot Photograph "Their" Cars

    My limited experience of Ford as a Corporate Citizen was an eye-opener when I had a cleaning contract which covered both parts of the factory floor (toilets) and 'upstairs' executive offices.

    Not a healthy relationship between line-workers and bosses! They had to walk in groups on the floor to avoid 'accidents' it was that bad.
    They probably made Dave's Mk1 Escort there... with MkIV Zephyrs and Zodiacs and Cortinas on the same line!

  16. #16
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Re: Ford Decides You Cannot Photograph "Their" Cars

    Apparently the issues between the BMC, Cafe Press, and FMC have been worked out. They're now back-pedalling and saying that it was the display of the Ford Logo on the callendar that Ford objected to, it has been removed, and the callendar is being printed again.

  17. #17

    Re: Ford Decides You Cannot Photograph "Their" Cars

    of course they backed down - this got press coverage and ford cannot afford the bad PR
    I still guarantee they go after anyone else who does the same thing (even without a ford logo)
    '06 Lotus Elise, '07 Saturn Sky Redline

  18. #18
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Ford Decides You Cannot Photograph "Their" Cars

    Quote Originally Posted by damen
    of course they backed down - this got press coverage and ford cannot afford the bad PR
    I still guarantee they go after anyone else who does the same thing (even without a ford logo)
    Sigh... I agree.

    I guess since they're not making money selling cars they figure they can do it by suing people....

  19. #19
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    Re: Ford Decides You Cannot Photograph "Their" Cars

    I notice this as a new trend. Just in the last year I have noticed commercials or movies where a car is shown on camera and the badges are missing.

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