Icon vs Mattel over Toyota FJ40
A specialist Californian custom carmaker has alleged that Mattel has reproduced one of its truck designs as a Hot Wheels car.
Icon, a boutique brand founded by former TV and film actor Jonathan Ward, builds up-dated versions of classic and off-road cars including the Ford Bronco and Jeep CJ, and has held a trademark to the Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40 since 2005.
The company sells around 25 vehicles a year at an average price of $150,000 each.
Ward said Mattel began marketing a Hot Wheels truck last year that appears to be based on Icon’s interpretation of the FJ40, featuring the same bull bar design, off-road light arrangement and many other trade dress details.
According to Ward, the marketing campaign itself is based on Icon’s own publicity images and that a Hot Wheels animation shows Ward himself in the driver’s seat.
Prior to Icon’s lawyers issuing a cease and desist order, Ward said when he approached the Hot Wheels design director to discuss his concerns he was told that Mattel had the necessary approval from Toyota directly and that he would need to be more specific as to what he was claiming ownership of.
In its response Mattel said it had fair use under law to use the FJ40 designation, that neither the toy nor its packaging exhibited protected trade dress that Icon could claim ownership of and that Icon would need to file suit to pursue the matter.
Mattel further said that it “respects the intellectual property of others and takes these types of allegations very seriously” and that it “strongly disagrees with the allegations”.
Ward said he is unable to afford the legal fees the pursuit of the matter would incur and has issued a plea for assistance from any interested attorneys.