Ferrari Loses 250 GTO Body Trademark, Paving the Way for Kit Cars

Coming to your local cars and coffee as soon as the body filler dries.

Patrick Enzen, Courtesy of RM Sotheby's

As a rare and historically noteworthy race car of literally unrivaled value, the 250 GTO has every reason to be closely guarded by Ferrari. Permitting the replication of its most coveted model, after all, would be a disservice to both Maranello and its customers, some of whom take pride in their vehicles' exclusivity above all. Unfortunately for Ferrari and its tifosi, however, a court has ruled that because Ferrari isn't actively producing cars shaped like the 250 GTO, it has to play nice and let other companies use its body shape—in other words, the kit cars are coming.

Per a report by This is Money, Ferrari recently lost its exclusive rights to the design following a legal showdown with Modena-based Ares Design; a coachbuilder known primarily for its DeTomaso Pantera-inspired, Lamborghini Huracan-based Panther Progettouno. This kerfuffle, which resulted in the 250 GTO being legally classified as a work of art early last year, was over Ferrari's 2008 filing with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), which Ares' lawyers contested was "filed in bad faith, namely, as a defensive mark in order to block third parties to produce and sell similarly built sports cars."

For companies to retain their rights to trademarks with the EUIPO, they must actively put them to use, and as Ares' lawyers pointed out, Ferrari hasn't exactly been going wild with 250 GTO tribute cars. Siding with the plaintiff, the judge reportedly ruled that Ferrari no longer has exclusive rights to the 250 GTO's body shape, opening the door for legal third-party replicas. Ferrari will reportedly retain the privilege of being the only company allowed to make 250 GTO toy cars, small peanuts though they may be in comparison to the real deal.

This landmark court case doesn't mean the market will suddenly be flooded with 250 GTO lookalikes or clones, which some less-savory types may try to pass off as the authentic article. The Real McCoys have lengthy paper trails, easily corroborated provenance, and won't be found in the driveways of McMansions. The cost will also keep accurate 250 GTO clones out of the hands of most blowhards, as authentic replicas of period racing cars (such as Superformance's Shelby Daytona) still cost well into the six figures. As such, any 250 GTO you see out on the roads—be it the real thing or a convincing clone—will still be a status symbol, so GTO owners can still sleep at night knowing they won't ever be mistaken for someone who has ever been paid an hourly wage.

RM Sotheby's via Ferrari

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