Infringing a 4000 Pound Trademark: Bentley Motors Sues Manufacturer of Car Body Kits

Infringing a 4000 Pound Trademark: Bentley Motors Sues Manufacturer of Car Body Kits

On the low range, a new Bentley will cost you nearly $200,000. It's a hefty sum, and for Bentley fans who don't have that kind of money, the alternatives are few. Beyond draining your daughter's college fund or pretending your Ford Focus is actually a Continental GT V8, you might consider building your own imitation Bentley.  But fans better hurry because Bentley wants to put a stop to one of the imitators.

On Monday, Bentley sued the manufacturers of a "Bentley Body Kit," accusing them of infringing Bentley's trademark and trade dress rights:

  • in the inherently distinctive shape of Bentley's vehicles; and
  • in the world famous trademarks BENTLEY, the BENTLEY B , and the B IN WINGS.1

Bentley, which has used the Bentley Marks since at least 1919, accuses the defendants of unlawfully manufacturing Bentley body kits that transform ordinary and inexpensive Chrysler and Ford vehicles into Bentley knockoffs. Defendants' imitation vehicles are alleged to incorporate the Bentley trade dress and display counterfeit Bentley trademarks. Counterfeit marks can be found on the imitation vehicles' hoods, trunk lids, wheel covers and are embroidered into interior seating and steering wheel covers.

According to the complaint:

Bentley is being irreparably harmed because when the public views these shoddy, imitation Bentley vehicles, the public will mistakenly believe that the unsurpassed quality and reputation of genuine Bentley vehicles has deteriorated.

Despite calling them "shoddy" imitations, Bentley offers several examples of confusion. In one example, Bentley quoted the following from Auto123.com:

The Continental GTC is actually a Chrysler Sebring Convertible that underwent a makeover so thorough and realistic that it's nearly impossible to tell the difference. We sure were fooled when we spotted the car earlier this month at the 2011 SEMA Show in Las Vegas.

In another article, a carmabrand.com author was quoted as saying:

[s]omeone would literally have to tell you it was a phony, even the interior seemed to be spot-on. We'd really like to see a Fugazzi conversion next to the real thing though.

Bentley is seeking, among other prayers for relief, an award of damages trebled, including statutory damages in the amount of at least $2,000,000.00.


1. Bentley included a design patent claim for infringement of the ornamental design of Bentley vehicles. 

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