Ford fights writ against Focus

Ford has acted against a legal threat from a German publisher by starting its own proceedings in a Cologne court to establish its right to use the Focus name in Germany.

The row in the German courts threatens to disrupt the launch of the car maker’s Focus model scheduled for October (MW March 26).

The aim of Ford’s “put up or shut up” order, issued in the German courts at the end of last week, is to prevent Burda Holdings, publisher of Focus magazine, from repeating its claim that Ford is infringing its trademark by launching the Focus car in Germany. The case will be heard on May 14, although Burda has until April 15 to respond to the Ford writ.

“Ford has basically been damaged by the magazine’s public threats,” says Ford spokesman Don Hume. “We want to devote our full energy to the launch of a very important new vehicle and we will not allow that process to be distracted by the uncertainty of whether Focus will follow through on its legal threats.”

Burda’s attorney Cornelia Inderst says it will not now issue any legal claim against Ford but will use the Cologne court case to establish its claim that the car company is infringing the trademark it holds on Focus magazine.

“Ford is obviously in a hurry and wants a clear decision. We will argue that it (Focus) infringes what is a famous trademark in Germany,” says Inderst.

See News Analysis, page 24

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