Ford settles dispute over Focus brand

Ford has settled a dispute over the Focus brand name in Germany with publisher Burda-Verlag out of court.

Ford filed a case in the German courts to clarify ownership of the Focus name, which is already used by Burda’s German current affairs magazine Focus.

Burda claimed the name of the new car – which is to replace Escort as Ford’s flagship brand – would confuse German consumers. The magazine is well known and has a circulation of more than 700,000.

Following a July Cologne court ruling that Ford could not use the Focus name in Germany, the two companies have now reached an agreement (MW 9 July).

Ford will pay 330,000 to Burda’s charity of choice, Doctors in the Third World, and will make only limited use of the Focus name within marketing guidelines agreed by Burda.

Burda could have forced Ford to appeal against the decision by refusing to capitulate, but the publisher’s attorney Cornelia Inderst says: “It is absolutely top secret, but I assume there is a further financial agreement.”

It is understood Ford was eager to strike a deal rather than go through a time-consuming and costly appeal process in the light of the fast-approaching October launch of Focus.

Ford spokesman Don Hume denies there was an undisclosed pay-off. He says: “As a result of the court finding against Ford both companies continued negotiating out of court.”

“We will go ahead with the launch in Germany as planned with the Focus name.”

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