Posted by: Seth D. | March 30, 2009

Kick’em While They’re Down…

Reading the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette this morning I came across this article stating,

A Uniontown auto parts dealer has filed a federal lawsuit against Ford Motor Co., claiming the manufacturer is using the company’s catch phrase.

The article goes on to state,

Frank’s Auto Supply Inc., which opened in 1938 and has seven locations, claims that Ford is using a phrase to advertise its 2010 Ford Fusion that the Uniontown company began using in 2003. The lawsuit accuses Ford of unfair competition under the Federal Trademark Act.

Frank’s said in the complaint filed Friday in U.S. District Court that the company has been using the phrase, “We Speak Car,” in advertising since June 8, 2003. Further, the lawsuit alleges that the company owns the Web site domain name,

Unfair competition?  Does Frank’s Auto Supply Inc. sell or market vehicles?  Are they competing for the same piece of market share? No.  Yes their products are related, but Ford does not benefit from Frank’s existence, if anything Frank’s benefits from Ford.  If Ford or any other car company were to go bankrupt and were to stop selling cars, Frank’s business could be hurt.

Western, PA contains a typically blue collar demographic and typically blue collar workers have purchased domestic vehicles throughout the years.  They have also been known to hold onto their vehicles for as long as possible warranting a visit to Frank’s for supplies to help maintain their car.  No they are not always in search of parts, but they may change their own oil or they are looking for that hard to find wax, that only Frank’s carries, to keep their car shining for the long haul.

Ford was the only Detroit 3 automaker that did not accept a bailout from the federal government.  In my previous post, Drive One, I wrote about some of the great things that Ford is doing to turn the company around.  Yes they might be using Frank’s tagline, but are they doing it to harm Frank’s business?  I do not think that was their intent.  I am also sure that they have never heard of Frank’s Auto Supply Inc. of Uniontown, PA.  Today was the first time I had heard of them and it was because of a lawsuit and not their product.

Lawsuits like these have to be part of the reason we are in this mess.  Everyone remembers the McDonald’s lawsuit right?  Suing for hot coffee being, too hot?  Absurd right?  It happened and similar lawsuits happen everyday.  If Frank’s Auto Supply Inc. did have the tagline trademarked then it is within their right to protect their trademark, because if they do not they stand the risk of losing the trademark’s legitimacy.  I understand it is within in their right, but do they need to sue Ford?

Ford has not taken bailout money, they have not used taxpayer money to hand out bonuses (We are all looking at you AIG), and they are not out to get you Frank’s.  I do not know if Frank’s contacted Ford directly before filing the lawsuit, but could they not work out something before it came to this.  How about Ford giving Frank’s Auto Supply a free plug?  Or possibly running a promotion at some of their local stores, instead of spending millions tied up in Federal litigation with Frank’s.

The sue happy culture we live in needs to change.  We need to start being humans again.  Instead of trying to tear each other down let us start building each other up.  There is nothing wrong with friendly competition, but let us compete to make the U.S.A. the greatest country in the world, again.  Not only in the eyes of our own citizens, but in the eyes of the citizens of the world.  No longer can countries practice isolation.  We are all World Citizens, but change has to start here first.

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