In one of the most astonishingly blatant shoot-yourself-in-the-foot moves, Ford Motor Company is reportedly threatening suit against Ford-enthusiast Websites unless they cease all use of Ford trademarks in domain names, banners, signs, and merchandise, as well as pay $5,000 US resitution to the near bankrupt Ford by 19 December 2008.
On the very day that a $14 billion auto manufacturer bailout deal is reached (source: CNN), automotive newsite Jalopnik reports that Ford, one of the three US automanufacters begging the government for bailout funds, is going after their own greatest fans.
The days of the Carpocalypse are upon us and Ford is now taking it to the internet, web 2.0-style… Enthusiast sites [like TheRangerStation.com] that have received a letter from the Howard, Phillips and Andersen legal firm will be required to promptly remove all FoMoCo-trademarked material and are [threatened with] a $100,000 lawsuit on top of the [$5,000] restitution payment.
In addition to adding Mustang fan forum Mustang Evolution and other Ford-enthusiast sites to the list of those in Ford’s legal crosshairs, Voltage Blog blasts the move by Ford Motor Company and even goes on to suggest more appropriate actions the ailing automaker should be taking with members of Ford product fan sites:
Sponsor a barbecue and talk to these people about why they’re passionate about past Ford vehicles and apply that to future products. (The Ranger Station? Who loves Ford Rangers? Why?)
Host a track day at their proving grounds to strengthen the bond between the company and their most evangelistic customer base.
Reaching out to them with special promotional products you can only get through membership so they can increase their numbers
Following the Voltage Blog post, Scott Monty, Global Digital Communications for Ford Motor Company, allegedly replied stating that he is “looking into this personally with our Chief Trademark Counsel.” Monty also said: “I’m not pleased that such action would be taken, but I’m trying to understand the full ramifications of the story.”