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USF1 is now USGPE

March 5th, 2009

Bernie EcclestoneAfter the rumour, hype and, finally, launch of new American Formula One team, USF1, Bernie Ecclestone has suddenly remembered that he thinks he owns the trademark on ‘F1’ and has forced the team to change their name.  USF1 will now be known as US Grand Prix Engineering or USGPE.

This is despite the fact that in 2007 the UK Trademark Registry refused to grant Formula One Licensing exclusive use of the term ‘F1’ as it considered it a generic term.  In fact the only official trademark they own is  ‘FIA Formula One World Championship’.

This is crazy.  Aparently the fact that Bernie owned the trademark to ‘F1’ must have slipped his mind while he was helping the team get off the ground.  He also doesn’t seem to mind other teams using ‘F1’ in their names; Williams Grand Prix Engineering goes under the trading name of WilliamsF1.

But Bernie didn’t stop there.  Not content with going after teams that use ‘F1’ he also wants to own anything that might look like ‘F1’.  It seems if you squint really hard the Force India ‘FI’ logo sort of looks a bit like ‘F1’.  And of course Bernie owns that so it has to change.

Neither of these teams could afford any kind of legal challenge so they have little choice but to cave in to Ecclestone’s demands but this kind of thing does more harm to the F1 brand than good.

I’m not sure which is worse, Brawn Racing or USGPE…

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