If you were thinking about racing to find a 3D printer and imitating your favourite car design, the recent court decision involving Ferrari models may give pause for thought. In February, the EUTM Appellate Court of Alicante concluded that digitally scanning and 3D printing of a Ferrari 488 GTB constituted both copyright and trade mark infringement, such that the pan-European injunction should apply to prevent these unauthorised activities.

The defendant in this case scanned and digitally printed the Ferrari 488 GBT’s bodywork, installing the printed pieces on a different model of Ferrari. The court found that the bodywork was protectable and installing the bodywork on a different model resulted in it being a derivative work such that, in the absence of authorisation by Ferrari, this amounted to copyright infringement. The trade mark infringement claim was also upheld, on the basis that the defendant used an identical sign for identical goods, contrary to Article 9(2)(a) of the EUTM regulation.

In reaching its decision, the court highlighted in particular that “…the vehicle in question is one of the icons of the motoring world, known not only for the technique behind its speed on the track or circuit, but, in particular, for the beauty of the characteristic shapes of the brand reflected in, inter alia, the vehicle used by the defendant as the object to be transformed”. It would be interesting to know whether the court would come to the same conclusion for a less prestigious and iconic model, as in this case it was important that it had a “level of creativity that lends itself completely to being viewed aesthetically, irrespective of its functional purpose”.

It is notable that copyright and trade mark protection was relied upon by Ferrari in this instance, in contrast to previous infringement cases involving Ferrari where design rights have taken centre stage. For example, in Ferrari SpA v Mansory Design & Holding GmbH (C-123/20), the CJEU found that Unregistered Community Design (UCD) protection subsisted in the V-shaped component on the bonnet of Ferrari’s FXX K supercar, even though the component was publicly disclosed with the full car (i.e. it was not a requirement to disclose each part of the car design separately in order to benefit from UCD protection for each part). However, given that Ferrari’s 488 GTB was launched in 2015, the term of any potential UCD protection would have since expired in this case (with a UCD only lasting for three years from the date on which the design was first made available to the public within the EU).

Whilst this decision was based on European Union trade mark law and Spanish copyright law, it nevertheless serves as a poignant reminder of the range of rights that can be used to prevent unauthorised exploitation of iconic sports car models, and how IP laws can adapt to the use of growing technologies such as 3D printing.