Ferrari vs Ford: The F150 name game

We want to make sure that when someone says We want to make sure that when someone says "F150" people think "truck" -- not "racecar," Ford says. So the American automaker sued Ferrari. By Peter Valdes-Dapena, senior writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Ford made it very clear to Italian sports car maker Ferrari, that the name "F150" means a truck -- not a racecar. Faced with a lawsuit over the matter, Ferrari backed down.

Ferrari had named its new Formula 1 racecar the F150, in celebration of the 150th anniversary of Italy's unification. But the name tag already has a strong following on one of the best-selling vehicles in America -- the Ford F-150 pickup truck.

Not wanting the Italian automaker messing with its name, Ford (F, Fortune 500) filed a lawsuit against Ferrari. And on Thursday, Ferrari was the first one to step away from the F150 fight.

The Italian automaker announced it was changing the way it referred to its racecar. ... It will now be called the F150th Italia.

However, Ferrari still doesn't understand what upset Ford so much.

"Ferrari believes its own contender in the upcoming F1 Championship cannot be confused with any other types of commercially available vehicle whatsoever, nor can it give the impression that there is a link to another brand of road-going vehicle," Ferrari said in a statement. "Therefore it is very difficult to understand Ford's viewpoint on the matter."

In response, Ford says it never thought anyone would confuse its big, brawny truck with a single-seat, open-wheel race car.

"We're not concerned that the two vehicles would be confused," Ford spokeswoman Anne Marie Gattari said. "The motive behind this action was about the brand being diluted."

In other words, the name "F150" to most people means a truck. Ford wanted to make sure it stayed that way.

Regardless, Ferrari will change how it refers to the car. But Ferrari said that this isn't really a name change -- F150th Italia was really the name of the car all along. But from now on, Ferrari will always use the full name -- not the shortened F150 -- so they can keep out of Ford's way.

Ford Motor Co. was not immediately able to say whether it was satisfied with Ferrari's change. To top of page

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