For some products, form matters as much as function, if not more so. With something like, say, your lawnmower, the aesthetics aren't so important as long as it performs the work of cutting your grass. But your car? Your car says something about you, given how much you might be investing in it. And it says something about the company that made it, which is why some car makers have labored for decades towards mastery of the form as well as the mechanics, and have sough to protect the designs they've made iconic.
Ferrari is a legendary name in the car world, famous for its craftsmanship rather than sheer volume of production like a Ford Motor Company, to draw a line to last year's film pitting the two companies against one another. It's clear in looking at their cars that they care about the beauty of the cars they put out, which is why it is undoubtedly jarring to see them lose a trademark for an iconic design.
Ferrari lost its trademark battle over a "reinterpretation" of its 1962 250 GTO, with an Italian court ruling that determined the company failed the "use it or lose it" test provided by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). The company sued Ares Design, a competitor founded by a former Ferrari executive, over the design of the car, citing the trademark filed in 2008 for the design of the iconic vehicle. But the court sided with Ares in its contention that the filing was merely an effort to prevent others from making use of the design, given that the car in question hasn't been produced in decades. That a version of the 250 GTO hadn't been made for far longer than the five years required for the mark to be revoked ultimately sank Ferrari's case, whatever its claims of brand affiliation.
All is not lost for Ferrari, however. The company filed for a trademark on the name 250 GTO, at least hoping to prevent similarly-designed cars from at least replicating the name as well. And the court maintained the company's claim on the 250 GTO trademark design for toys and scale models, which is frankly as close as most of us will ever get to Ferrari ownership.
While the new versions of the 250 GTO will never be mistaken for the original, the case should still serve as a reminder to Ferrari and others that trademarks are about use and not simply protecting or stowing away your IP.