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Aug/03

The Shape of a Coupe


 

I can’t tell exactly what is going on from this AutoWeek story but the Caliph of Configuration Marks, Glenn Mitchell did some digging.  Someone named Brock is attempting to import the coupe pictured on top.  Race car legend Carroll Shelby attempted to stop the importation at customs on the basis of a registration for the trade dress of his coupe.  The drawing from his application is above left, a photo of a Shelby coupe is above right.  Shelby was unable to stop the importation at Customs because his registration had been inadvertently issued, and was rescinded (and, it seems, the application is now being opposed).  Shelby can however proceed in civil court and allege trade dress infringement under Section 43(a).  A Google search of ‘Shelby Coupe’ suggests a plausible shot at establishing secondary meaning in the shape.  An earlier AutoWeek article quoted Brock as saying that his car was ‘indistinguishable’ from Shelby’s design.

So we have a practice pointer: Never say that your trade dress is indistinguishable from that of a famous senior user.

Die-cast models of Shelby coupes here.

Super expert Glenn Mitchell’s book on trade dress here.

UPDATE:  A loyal reader writes while on vacation (!!) to alert us to this District of Massachusetts decision from August 2002 denying a summary judgment by Shelby against SuperPerformance Complete Replicas, an issue being whether Shelby’s design of the Cobra had secondary meaning.

 

 

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