Sue Like Hell! Shelby Loses Factory Five, Forum LawsuitS

Carroll Shelby's curious intellectual property lawsuit against Daytona Coupe-replica maker Factory Five, and two web forums has failed with a United States District Court judge dismissing the suit and Factory Five bragging about besting Shelby.

The Shelby lawsuit was sort of strange to begin with, alleging the use of metatags within certain websites from both Factory Five and associated forums was a violation of their trademarks. Here's the summary from the original story:

The lawsuit against Factory Five, FFCobra.com and LK Motorsports alleges the websites of all three entities, which it claims are agents of each other, all make unauthorized use of the "Cobra," "Shelby," and "Daytona Coupe" trademarks and several other less common ones like "427."

Neither the lawsuit or the dismissal have anything to do with Factory Five building cars that look like Shelby products. They do. But Shelby long ago settled this in another lawsuit with Factory Five resolved in 2002 that basically determined people can build cars shaped like Shelby products. They just can't use the name or associated names to sell them.

Those words ended up in the metatags of these websites so Shelby sued. The lawsuit failed on two major points. First, the doctrine of "Res Judicata" states you can't sue over something you just sued about or should have sued about when you sued them the first time. Second, the previous lawsuit already cleared up how this is supposed to be handled. Shelby was required to send a note to Factory Five and others saying "Yo, stop doing this." They didn't. They just sued.

The only part of this having to do with intellectual property falls on whether using metatags on a site constitutes unfair association. It doesn't, so long as it's used under the fair use doctrine, i.e. "descriptively, fairly, and in good faith." In this case it's determined it was used in good faith, even though the parties already removed the metatags.

What's the conclusion here? Carroll Shelby should either stick to what he knows best (fast) or hire better lawyers.

[Factory Five]