What’s up between Henrik Fisker and Aston Martin these days? Drama, man. Drama.
Aston threw a fit, essentially claiming that Fisker didn’t modify an Aston so much as copy one and claim it as his own, so Fisker promised not to make his Aston. And then Fisker came out with a sketch for a design that was Totally Not An Aston, called the Force 1, and to drive the point home Fisker made sure to say the word “American” four different times on his website.
Undaunted however by the use of “American,” Aston decided that yes, this too looks suspiciously like an Aston. So Aston asked Fisker not to bring his “American” car to the Detroit Auto Show. And now Henrik Fisker is suing Aston Martin for $100 million for “civil extortion.”
(Stops to breathe) Okay then.
And then Fisker went and talked a whole bunch of smack in a letter that Fisker sent to Road & Track but not us, which I totally do not get! There is no possible way we would be all sarcastic and think this is hilarious and much better than watching Netflix:
“Aston Martin is trying to intimidate me to prop up their own flailing company and to mask their financial and product deficiencies. I refuse to be intimidated and that is the reason for today’s filing.”
“We believe that in an effort to protect itself from further market erosion, Aston Martin and their three executives who run the company, conspired and devised a scheme to stomp out Henrik Fisker’s competitive presence in the luxury sports car industry, “ explained [Fisker’s lawyer Jonathan] Michaels. “Because of the threats they laid out in their letter we opted to play offense in regards to Aston Martin’s transparent and nefarious motives.”
Aston, for all its alleged “transparent and nefarious motives,” declined to comment on Fisker’s lawsuit when we sent them an email, except for saying that they believe the lawsuit is “without merit.”
But Fisker’s suit is actually just the tip of the legal iceberg. Long before Henrik Fisker designed the vehicle in question here, he was actually a designer for Aston Martin itself, and penned stunningly gorgeous works like the Aston Martin DB9 and the Aston Martin Vantage with Ian Callum.
And in the same decade when he was doing that, he also designed new bodies for Mercedes and BMWs, resulting in cars like the Fisker Tramonto.
Which, funnily enough, looks a bit like an Aston:
So you might go as far to say that Aston and Fisker both have a pronounced design language, and since a few Aston designs were penned by Fisker himself, it wouldn’t be unusual that some Astons end up looking like Fisker designs, and some Fisker designs end up looking like Astons.
Having your own personal style is one thing, and that’s alright. Actually going ahead and copying yourself, however, is not alright if you don’t own the rights to whatever it is you created (as is alleged here) and the person who owns the rights of it feels you are copying.
It sounds complicated and convoluted, and it is, but you can be sued for being too much like yourself. Just ask John Fogerty, who was sued for sounding too much like John Fogerty.
And here we have a serious conundrum. Does the Force 1 look like an Aston Martin? Or does the Force 1 just represent Fisker’s personal style?
As it looks now, we only have the one sketch of the Force 1 from Fisker. And according to Fisker’s lawsuit, “Aston Martin’s letter admits, ‘We do not know what the final version of Fisker’s Force 1 will look like.’”
So since we don’t know what the car even looks like, it might even be a bit premature to say it looks like an Aston, though from the top-down angle I’m seeing a lot of the Aston Martin DB10, as Aston says it does. Aston’s letter to Fisker even calls it “strikingly” similar:
The car depicted above is of concern to Aston Martin because it is strikingly similar to several of Aston Martin’s cars, including the DB10 car (the James Bond car).
What follows in the Aston letter is the one sketch of the Fisker, along with a number of pictures of it looking similar to the DB10:
Or maybe not, because the sketch up top isn’t even the final version of the Force 1.
So does Fisker’s Fisker look like a Fisker? Or does Fisker’s Fisker look like an Aston Martin, whose stylistic underpinnings look to be influenced by Fisker, at the very least? And does Fisker even have a right to produce cars that look like Fiskers of the past?
But Fisker’s lawsuit doesn’t even go as far as asking those obvious questions, and instead, what it essentially does is concede that Henrik Fisker’s design isn’t very original. It cites the long-hood short-deck designs of the Jaguar F-Type and Chevrolet Corvette, as proof that the basic design doesn’t belong to Aston Martin.
And even if they were basically similar, the suit claims that the cars look nothing alike, mostly by drawing a series of lines overlaid over the tops of both the sketch and an image of the Aston:
But are they different at all? Or is it just too much?
That’s for a court to decide, I suppose. Or for very expensive lawyers in a room to decide.
Either way, the Force 1 is said by Fisker to have a “front/mid engine, featuring amongst the world’s highest output natural aspirated engine in a road car, driven by the rear wheels either by a six-speed manual or optional paddle shift auto box.”
Check the full text of Henrik Fisker’s suit against Aston Martin below:
Photos credit: Henrik Fisker/Simon Davison/Aston Martin