A judge in Florida has ruled that companies that re-body donor cars to make them look like other models are illegal and infringe on patents and trademarks, striking a blow to people everywhere who want to make their Chrysler Sebring not look like the wretched Chrysler Sebring that it is.
The company in question Fugazzi Cars, would re-body Chrysler Sebrings to make them look like Bentley Continental GTCs. Bentley did not like that, and sued Fugazzi owner Matthew McEntegart, along with another company, Keeping It Real Auto Customizing, last year in U.S. District Court. Bentley sought to shut the companies down, along with "tens of thousands of dollars in damages," which is not enough to buy a real Bentley, according to ABC News. The owner of Fugazzi is still pleading ignorance, despite the ruling:
"He's a small business owner supporting a family and has not done anything with Bentley Motors since learning they were not authorized," [his lawyer] McGuire said.
It's pretty laughable that someone would claim to have no idea that building fiberglass models of Bentleys and then using the Bentley name would've been illegal, but them's the breaks. McEntegart said that everything was all cool though because he never actually took a mold of a Bentley Continental, so there's that. The judge didn't buy it.
This sort of thing has been going on for nearly forever, with Pontiac Fieros being turned into Ferraris serving as the most common example. A lot of people build these things themselves, such as the basement Lamborghini, but going out and selling "Bentley Car Kits" when you are not Bentley is not exactly above-board. Other companies that make replicas, such as Superformance, tend to have a license before going ahead and starting up a big business around it.
In fairness to Bentley, this isn't so much big-corporation-going-after-little-guy as it is a serious business matter. If you don't sue people for using your trademark, you can lose it, in a concept known as "abandonment."
In fairness to McEntegart, though, the replicas were pretty spot on for this sort of thing.
Photo credit: Alexandre Prévot
You can read the original lawsuit below:
H/t to CREATIVE ACCIDENTS and Ilya!