The Ferrari 250 GTO is famous for being two things. The first, is exceptionally beautiful. The GTO is 60’s car design at it’s very best. However, the second thing is, it’s expensive. The cars are so rare and have so much value, that in 2018, it broke the record for the most expensive car ever sold; when David MacNeil paid $70,000,000 for a 1963 car. With only 39 250 GTOs left in existence, it is understandable why they are of so much value. But soon, we could see a flurry of replica 250’s and kit cars hitting the market. So what’s changed now?
Ferrari had the design of the iconic 250 trademarked, so that no one could produce anything that could, potentially, devalue such an iconic car. However, a bespoke car manufacturer, also based in Modena, called Ares Design, took Ferrari to the Cancellation division of the EU’s Intellectual Property Office. They put forward the argument that Ferrari had not put the contested trademark to genuine use for a period of 5 years straight. They argued that the trademark, filed in 2008, was filed in bad faith, and as a defensive mark to block kit cars of the GTO hitting the market; similar to what we see with the AC Cobra and the many modern versions of the Lotus Seven.
In Article 58(1)(a) EUTMR, an EU trademark can be revoked if not used genuinely within a period of 5 years. Ferrari had not used it, and considering that they had filed a trademark in 2007 for a design that hadn’t been used in over 50 years, it didn’t appear Ferrari would use it.
In short, Ares Design won. The trademark has been revoked in the context of proper cars. Ferrari still hold a trademark for scale models of the GTO. The EU ruling is certainly an interesting one, given that 2 years ago, there was a similar lawsuit between the same two companies. It was heard by a court in Bologna, which declared the GTO a work of art that could not be imitated or reproduced.
This leaves us in an interesting place. Whilst the GTO is a timeless classic, perhaps the ultimate classic car, I hate the idea of shoddy replicas being made that don’t do the real car justice. However, companies such as Ares Design clearly would make quality replicas, based off the stunning work that they do already. While many may disagree, I do think that there’s a place for high quality 1:1 replicas, especially in motorsport. These days, barely any 250s are seen on track, as they’re too valuable. A replica would look and sound the same, but not have as much value. This would give us an insight into the incredible GTO in its natural habitat, that we just don’t get to see in the modern day.