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When Car Makers Squabble Over Naming

By raccars Published

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At this year's Geneva motor show, Aston Martin showed off its athletic new GT3 racer. However, Porsche objected to the use of the name GT3 for the track-focused Vantage, considering that it should have dominion over that particular term. Porsche took what it saw as this infringement seriously enough to contact its lawyers. It seems that the courts agreed with the German firm, forcing Aston Martin to rename the production version to GT12. This isn't the first time car makers have gone all proprietary over naming strategies.

Porsche, in fact, has experience of being on the other side of this argument. Its iconic 911, for example, was originally called the 901. Peugeot reacted strongly, claiming the exclusive right to use a three digit naming strategy with a zero as the middle number.

In 1999 Citroen had some trouble with Marina Picasso, granddaughter of the famous painter, when it decided to name its new MPV the Xsara Picasso. Having cleared it with Picasso's son, Claude, who was the administrator of the artist's estate, presumably the French company thought it was in the clear. However, Marina Picasso launched legal proceedings on the basis that a car was too banal to bear the name of her genius grandfather.

Ford got into some hot water when it sold the rights to the name of its GT40 supercar to a Cincinnati parts supplier in 1999. When the blue oval firm wanted to re-use the GT40 badge in 2004, Safir GT40 Spares Ltd was happy to grant them permission - for a $40 million fee. Understandably Ford baulked, hence the use of the truncated GT form.

Just a few years later in 2011, Ford went to Detroit's US District Court to challenge Ferrari's use of the F150 badge for its Formula One car. The laid-back Italian firm simply added a suffix to create the Ferrari F150th Italia. Problem solved.

Audi's plans to insert a compact SUV into the tiny gap between its Q3 and Q5 models could be inconvenienced by Alfa Romeo, which owns the rights to the use of the name Q4. Apparently negotiations are taking place.

Things got a little comical over at Renault, which was taken to court by the families of two little girls named Zoe Renault, over the link to its Renault Zoe electric car. Having pointed out that the name Zoe had already been applied to 122 products worldwide, the French firm's lawyers had little trouble in winning over the courts.

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