Prehaps we may all learn from a distance about a similar unauthorized logo problem that embroils Volkswagen of America against many VW clubs and user groups. This dispute may predict OEM reactions and help guide CR members on how to license the reproduction of decals from manufacturers. The concern of unauthorized duplication/modification trademark or copyright logos is an on-going problem that has been accelerated by Internet use. This intellectual property topic is cover at length in the July 2002 issue of VW Trends magazine currently on newstands in the USA.
In the past, many VW clubs and third party manufacturers have openly used 'Volkswagen' or 'VW' names or logos to advertise club functions, newsletters, websites and third party products. Volkswagen of America (VWoA) is causing many (if not most) VW clubs concern and alienation by issuing 'cease and desist' letters ordering any reference to VW to be immediately taken off of any any club stationary, advertising, promotions, newsletters, websites etc. because this is an unlicensed and unauthorized use of the VW trademark name. VWoA claims that new license agreements for user groups are being reviewed by VW Corporate in Germany and will be implemented in the next several months.
VWoA has engaged a third party company to "patrol" its brand and administer initial legal warnings to those who violate trademark/copyright. This group monitors all magazines, advertisements, and internet sites to check who has legal written permission or affiliation to use the VW logo. Recently, a mail order retailer was forced into bankrupcy (Rocky Mountain Motorworks) for unauthorized reproduction, advertising, and sales of VW logos through shirts, keyfobs, auto parts, etc. Apparently, Rocky Mountain ignored a cease and desist letter that demanded many thousands of dollars in initial damages and a complete halt in sales to any product associated with the VW logo
The VW Trends article also contains a interview between the lead lawyer for intellectual property at VWoA and a staff reporter conveying club member anger. The article details past VWoA actions against companies that infringe their copryright/trademark.
Sadly, the article blindly displays just how litigious and willing to sue companies have now become to supposedly protect their trademark/copyright, even against user groups that boost the company image to the general public.
With concern, Steve Neago