Say the phrase “F-150” and chances are an image of Ford Motor Co.’s burly pickup truck comes to mind. So when Italian carmaker Ferrari recently announced that its new Formula 1 race car would also be called the F150, the Detroit automaker’s lawyers were quick to claim trademark infringement.
Ferrari later backed off by pledging to use only the racer’s full name, the Ferrari F150th Italia (it’s Italy’s 150th anniversary this year). Besides, Ferrari said in a statement last week, “there can be no way to confuse the one-seater for the next F1 championship with any other vehicle.” But Ford refuses to budge and is pursuing its lawsuit, which likely has something to do with the F-150’s title as the bestselling pickup in the U.S. for three decades running. It’s a different sort of race, and, given Detroit’s suffering over the past few years, one Ford simply can’t afford to lose.