Formula 1 Pushing to Settle Logo Dispute With 3M
The Formula One Group is already smarting over second-quarter revenue and operating income declines, but those diminished totals might signal only the beginning of a period of financial frustration for the motorsport titan. Due to a logo controversy that its brand torchbearer, Formula 1, is facing, the Liberty Media-held entity might see its assets dip a bit more, as 3M is not steering away from its assertion that its legal foe is guilty of trademark infringement.
The logo that Formula 1 introduced in November has become quite a topic of discussion here at Promo Marketing, and now here we are again since the racing behemoth and 3M could, despite a recently announced nearly two-year cooling-off period, reach a resolution regarding the 10-month-old logo’s legality. The two could end up escaping the law’s version of traveling in the slow lane if they can come to a resolution on supposed similarities between the Formula 1 signifier, which represents the first artistic change for the global racing conglomerate in 23 years, and a logo that 3M uses for its Futuro apparel line.
Having registered for its Futuro trademark five months before Formula 1 applied for its present emblem, 3M—exactly a year after seeking to secure protection for the Futuro brand—voiced its complaint about possible similarities between the logos. Since Formula 1 has already received ample fanbase backlash over the new symbol, it could be quite the double whammy if legal reckoning were to occur, too.
Regarding the aforementioned break from contemplating the dispute, an exhaustive Forbes investigation of the matter said that although the European Intellectual Property Office had granted the combatants a 22-month-long halt to the “adversarial part of the opposition proceedings,” either can compel the audience to start at any point to render a conclusion. Even if it uses or ends up permitted to use only a little bit of that time, Formula 1 will need to busy itself with solidifying a claim that the logo does not not pose any risk of brand confusion. Having secured the earlier trademark registration, 3M, as Forbes notes, appears to have the legal edge. We have written about a few quirky cases where it seemed as if plaintiffs had lost their marbles in going after companies whose logos might violate their established symbols, but this matter appears as if it has more validity than those ordeals.
It can be tempting to want to change a brand, and it can be even more compelling to take a company to task when it makes a switch that had either not seemed necessary or that lacks the appeal of its predecessor. Formula 1 fans have certainly scratched their critical itch in treading on the logo decision, and they might soon have legal figures giving a different rebuke. Given its trademark holding, 3M is not likely to wait 22 months to have sufficient material, either through solo consultations or interactions with Formula 1, to go after a victory. No matter the timeline, one wonders if the latter will crash out or surprise everyone with an unexpected triumph. Overall, their squabble offers yet another reminder that companies hold their brands in the highest esteem and, especially with regards to 3M, need little provocation to stick it to those who might look to speed off with cash at their expense.