Ford lost a case in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday when the court ruled that a Montgomery, Texas printer did not violate any law in printing the Ford logo for clients such as Ford dealers, used car dealers or anyone else using the Ford logo under standard fair use policies. The printer, George Atkinson, sued Ford after receiving a demand letter for $5,000 after he printed the Ford logo for a client. Mr. Atkinson sued Ford for unfair business practices and interference with third party contracts.
Mr. Atkinson says Ford has sent out thousands of letters to commercial printers, sign companies, advertising products companies and anyone else Ford finds using an image of the Ford logo for any reason, claiming users are infringing by using the Ford logo/trademark without Ford’s approval. Ford claims in the letters and in court that it has the right to approve the copy of the logo any printer uses. Ford also claims in the letters that any use not authorized by Ford amounts to counterfeiting. The letters all contain a standard $5000 demand for damages. The Ford demand letters also claim – falsely, according to Mr. Atkinson and to Ford’s OWN documents – that dealers are, by contract, allowed to use only six sources which Ford has “authorized” for the purpose.