Shame on you McLaren

This topic contains 11 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  sw6569 6 years, 12 months ago.

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    The heartless killjoys in Woking have decided to take legal action against the wonderful little website that produces excellent original t-shirts including t-shirts for F1-Fanatic. Despite every other driver and team taking the t-shirts in the spirit they have been intended McLaren seems to see them as a threat. Shame on you McLaren.



    I’ll set out the stall for the opposite point of view:

    1) They’re not original – the character designs are extremely derivative of South Park, and the vehicle designs are equally hardly innovative – squashed up “baby” versions of a generic shape.

    2) They’re clearly being sold for profit based solely on the association with the teams’ and drivers’ own designs, not on the “added value” being provided by the maker.

    Sniff Petrol, for example can get away with using a team’s designs, pictures of their cars/merchandise and intellectual property associations in things like spoof ads and articles because he is on the side of “fair use” and is making enough of his own design on top of it to warrant an argument that the underlying team IP isn’t the main creative part of the picture/article.

    I don’t see how Unlap can make the same argument and win, to be honest. It may suck, but I can’t say its unexpected, and I’m surprised FOM and the other teams haven’t taken action themselves.


    Fer no.65

    Those are drawings, with no sponsor written correctly, not even the logos are the same.

    The fact that the character and the car designs are hardly innovative doesn’t count. That’s another thing, an opinion really.

    South Park must be the only one really able to do anything about this, because their characters, as you said, do look like those on the t-shirts.

    But the others are drawings loosely-based on F1 cars.



    Ah that’s all rubbish. South Park can’t do anything as it’s an artistic style not a direct copy. McLaren wont be able to do anything as they don’t own any copyright on those images..

    .. so I imagine someone else is doing something here. Some twit from the offices has decided to send Unlap an email, or the solicitors in charge or protecting McLarens image have decided to take action on their own initiative etc.

    I don’t believe for one moment, that McLaren will follow on that through. It’s hideously stupid for public image, and has no real basis.

    I’m gonna give McLaren the benefit of a doubt and say some moron has acted on behalf of them.

    Lukas Arts did the same thing for a hand held laser that looked slightly like a lightsaber. They got publicly maligned no end for it and eventually retreated.

    It’ll come to nothing, mark my words.



    I think this is rubbish. Luke is an artist and actually paints F1 cars for a living and plenty of racing teams and drivers (I believe Gary P is one) enjoy his work. Stirling Moss also uses them I believe.

    Mclaren probably are legally right although it is very gray. No logos are used, it’s a cartoon and the team’s and driver’s get cartoons and things written about them everything day and they generally go uncomplained about. Mclaren may perhaps have a right to complain but honestly what harm is it doing? It’s good for the fans, we rarely get to see the fun side of F1. It’s just pouring cold water on a bit of fun that was doing no harm. It’s stupid and petty and could really hurt a good guy who has worked his socks off and made F1 a little more enjoyable for many people. Plus, it’s ruined my Christmas list so I’m fuming.


    Ned Flanders

    Hmmm… I think Hairs has a point. They aren’t the amazing designs that everyone seems to think IMO, and they are basically South Park rip offs. And I’m not that sympathetic, because this is all about one man making money off the back of the teams, without paying for the licenses.

    But, that said, it is a bit of a PR disaster for McLaren (at least amongst the few of us who have heard the story, it’ll hardly be mainstream). It just reinforces the cold, humourless image they’ve been trying to get rid of



    “It’s a bit of fun” – Unlap *would* be able to claim that, *if* the merchandise wasn’t being sold for profit. But it is.

    “Other teams/companies have had to back down before” – not because they were in the wrong, though. If Lucas Arts backed down on that particular toy, they didn’t on hundreds of others that got taken to court/slapped with cease and desist.

    “No logos used” – the helmet designs, car designs, and logos are the team’s exact layouts with some text missing. That’s nowhere near enough to claim differentiation. Jenson’s helmet in particular is very distinctive, and easily recognisable as a copy in Unlap’s version.

    “artistic style” – this is how typefaces are copyrighted, and designs in general. It’s a greyer area of copyright than literary plagiarism, but it’s still there.

    For comparison, there was a guy who posted a link in the forum here to his “F1 aggregator” website recently which would have loaded F1 Fanatic articles inside a webpage he surrounded with ads. Now, this guy was not plagiarising anything, nor was he stealing the articles and reposting them. Through a bit of technological jiggery pokery, he was harvesting ad revenue off the back of Keith’s (and others’) work and not giving them a cut of it. Nobody agreed with him that this was all ok, and the links were removed. Indeed, someone mentioned that similar sites had been successfully sued in the past. In both cases, some third party is making money based on work that someone else (or a team of someone elses) spent years building up to the point of widespread recognition.

    The way I see this situation is like a conversation:

    Unlap: “Check out my really cute Jenson and Lewis figures! Aren’t they great, and they’re really authentic to the real thing! And some McLaren cars, they’re soooo cool, you’ll love them if you’re an F1 fan! Buy some now!”

    Lawyer: “Errr are you ripping off our designs?”

    Unlap: “No way! This is Nothing like your designs. Leave me alone, big meanie!”

    Lawyer: “I totally overheard you talking to that Steph chick”

    Unlap’s Lawyer friend: “This would be an appropriate moment to remove all that from sale”

    Unlap: “Boooo McLaren”

    Unlap’s Lawyer friend, tomorrow: “And not say anything that could be construed as derogatary unless you plan to stand up in court”

    Equally, someone else will have paid McLaren for the rights to produce merchandise based on their designs, driver likenesses, logos, cars, colour schemes etc. Why should they be disadvantaged by someone else who is doing exactly the same thing, but hasn’t paid for a license and isn’t sharing the revenue with the IP owner. It’s easy to see the Big Corporation as the bad guy here, but in this case McLaren did all the design work, did all the years of building a publicly recognisable brand, which has a lot of intrinsic value, and someone else is jumping on the back of that, making money out of it, and hasn’t actually done much (see my “originality” point above) to earn it.



    I can see your point. However Unlap isn’t recycling articles, he’s providing value off his own back on the topic of F1. They’re not inspired art by any means though.

    I can also see why they are protecting their image, and as you mentioned their other licensees more than anything else. That is a particularly valid point.

    Either way, i think the guy’s gonna survive without McLaren to be honest. Maybe he needs to ask McLaren for rights, and pass % profits on. Who knows. But it’s not gonna appeal to many fans on first impression. This feels very Ron Dennis era.

    The modern world eh?



    Hairs I know you’re right. Mclaren have every right to do it (probably) and if they didn’t it could set a precedent so after my tens minutes of being annoyed I know what ypou’re saying :P However, it still just seems a bit like Scrooge



    Harsh but apparently they have the legal right and they are making money off the McLaren name. It’s no worse than Ferrari screwing over BATracer. At the end of the day Unlap should have checked to see if it was okay.



    Who was BATracer?

    Anyway I think it was probably Gary Paffitt’s official T-shirt that brought it to McLaren’s attention.



    To comment briefly – i’d say that Hairs has summed up the reasoning pretty well.

    Its also a matter of principle. If McLaren let people get away with making money from their image, then others will be able to do the same thing.

    It might be unfair and pedantic, but unfortunately its probably necessary.

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