Ferrari doesn’t like what German fashion designer Philipp Plein is doing with its Italian luxury cars. In a series of Instagram posts this week, Plein claims that Ferrari is threatening to sue him because he posted images of his sneakers on the hood of his own personal supercar. Ferrari says Plein’s behavior “tarnishes the reputation of Ferrari’s brands and causes Ferrari further material damage.”
Ferrari’s letter to Plein also says he using Ferrari’s trademarks for the “promotional purposes” of increasing his own brand and products’ visibility. Again, the cars pictured are Plein’s own. Ferrari is essentially claiming that Plein is harnessing its iconic imagery to bolster his own brand and also denigrate Ferrari’s.
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GOT A LOVE LETTER TODAY FROM THE LAWYERS OF FERRARI asking me to delete the picture OF MY PERSONAL CAR WITH MY PERSONAL SHOES ON IT !!!!! I can’t even put in words how disappointed and disgusted I am about this unfair and totally inappropriate claim against me personally......obviously I love cars and ESPECIALLY FERRARI !!!! I bought my first FERRARI 10 years ago and recently I bought a Ferrari for my mother as her birthday gift !!!! I think it is absolutely ridiculous as a good client to receive such a letter from a company like FERRARI !!! This message goes out to the CEO Louis Carey Camilleri of FERRARI !! If you want to continue treating your loyal clients with such letters from your lawyers you will lose the support from many FERRARI FANS ! @scuderiaferrari
The photo in question has not yet been deleted, as well as multiple others featuring the cars, even though Ferrari’s lawyers said they’d file a lawsuit within two days of the letter’s receipt.
Plein is calling the letter “blackmail,” and has asked his followers to send photos of his shoes on top of their luxury cars. He even made a slideshow of what his followers sent. Plein is positioning his fight as about more than just his shoe brand and the Italian carmaker. “This is a fight for our right to post on our private social media accounts whatever we decide (as long as it does not cause any harm to anybody),” he writes on his caption.
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SUPPORT THE FAMILY !! It’s honestly amazing how many people show love ❤️ and support the family ...... I am receiving thousands of photos from PP on SUPERCARS from all over the world ITALY GERMANY FRANCE USA BRAZIL UK MONACO AUSTRIA NETHERLANDS ........... !!! Where do we all end up if brands will start to dictate us what to post on our personal Instagram accounts ?? Social media gives all of us the freedom of speech ✊ this is not a fight against Ferrari, this is a fight for our right to post on our private social media accounts whatever we decide (as long as it does not cause any harm to anybody) ! NOBODY SHOULD DICTATE US WHAT TO DO AND WHAT NOT ! DON’T PUSH US ✋ BECAUSE WE WILL PUSH BACK STRONGER MY MOVEMENT IS STRONG AND NOBODY CAN STOP US !
As for the actual legal case, The Fashion Law reports that Ferrari could potentially build a sound argument. “Just as in the US, the holder of a registered trademark in Italy has the right to prevent third parties from using identical or similar trademarks for identical or similar products or services,” TFL writes. “Given the positioning of Plein’s footwear in the photo – i.e., right next to the Ferrari logos, and with the coordinating colors in mind, consumers might be led to believe that the two brands are working in collaboration for Plein’s footwear collection or are otherwise affiliated in some way, which would give rise to merited claims of trademark infringement.”
In a comment to Bloomberg, Carmine Rotondaro, an independent legal adviser to Plein, called Ferrari’s accusations “totally baseless.” It’s unclear whether Ferrari is following through with its plans to file the lawsuit, but we’ve reached out to the company for comment and will update if we hear back.