In a series of Instagram posts, German fashion designer Philip Plein claims that Ferrari is threatening to sue him because he posted images of his sneakers on the hood of his own personal supercar. In the letter, Plein posted online, Ferrari has accused him of harnessing the image of their cars and brand name to bolster his own brand while disparaging theirs.
Plein had posted photos on Instagram featuring a pair of bikini-clad women alongside an acid-green Ferrari 812 Superfast. In other posts, Plein put his brand’s footwear on the hood of his Ferrari car.
Plein is known to use Instagram as a marketing tool for his brand, where he posts pictures and videos of his supercars, private jets, and his personal adventures. The letter says from Ferrari that Plein’s behaviour “tarnishes the reputation of Ferrari’s brands and causes Ferrari further material damage”.
View this post on Instagram
GOT A LOVE LETTER 💌 TODAY FROM THE LAWYERS OF FERRARI 🏎 asking me to delete the picture OF MY PERSONAL CAR WITH MY PERSONAL SHOES 👟 ON IT !!!!! I can’t even put in words how disappointed and disgusted I am about this unfair and totally inappropriate claim against me personally……obviously I love cars and ESPECIALLY FERRARI !!!! I bought my first FERRARI 10 years ago and recently I bought a Ferrari for my mother as her birthday gift !!!! I think it is absolutely ridiculous as a good client to receive such a letter from a company like FERRARI !!! This message goes out to the CEO Louis Carey Camilleri of FERRARI !! If you want to continue treating your loyal clients with such letters from your lawyers you will lose the support from many FERRARI FANS ! 👎 @scuderiaferrari
The letter also accuses Plein of using Ferrari’s trademarks for the “promotional purposes” of increasing his own brand and products’ visibility. However, the Ferrari in question is owned by Plein and he says the shoes are also his personal items.
Ferrari lawyers gave Plein time of 48 hours to delete the images. The German designer called it blackmail and asked why he needs to delete pictures of his “personal Ferrari” from his “personal Instagram”. He retaliated and posted a slideshow of pictures send to him by his fans with Phillip Plein brand shoes on top of supercars.
He captioned the slideshow as, “Where do we all end up if brands will start to dictate us what to post on our personal Instagram accounts? Social media gives all of us the freedom of speech. This is not a fight against Ferrari; this is a fight for our right to post on our private social media accounts whatever we decide– as long as it does not cause any harm to anybody.”
View this post on Instagram
SUPPORT THE FAMILY !! It’s honestly amazing how many people show love ❤️ and support the family 🙏 …… I am receiving thousands of photos from PP 👟 on SUPERCARS from all over the world 🌎 ITALY 🇮🇹 GERMANY 🇩🇪 FRANCE 🇫🇷 USA 🇺🇸 BRAZIL 🇧🇷 UK 🇬🇧 MONACO 🇲🇨 AUSTRIA 🇦🇹 NETHERLANDS 🇳🇱……….. !!! Where do we all end up if brands will start to dictate us what to post on our personal Instagram accounts ?? Social media gives all of us the freedom of speech ✊ this is not a fight against Ferrari, this is a fight for our right to post on our private social media accounts whatever we decide (as long as it does not cause any harm to anybody) ! NOBODY SHOULD DICTATE US WHAT TO DO AND WHAT NOT ! 🔈🔈🔈DON’T PUSH US ✋ BECAUSE WE WILL PUSH BACK STRONGER 💪 MY MOVEMENT IS STRONG AND NOBODY CAN STOP US !
But it looks like the Italian carmaker isn’t the only automotive he showcases in his Instagram posts. His Instagram posts often feature a sedan from Rolls-Royce and an SUV made by Lamborghini, neither of which has complained about the posts, attorney Carmine Rotondaro told Bloomberg.
As an independent legal adviser to Plein, Rotondaro termed Ferrari’s accusations as “totally baseless”. He said the designer never sought to promote his brand via any affiliation with Ferrari and that he has no intention of taking down the posts.
Meanwhile, The Fashion Law reports that Ferrari could potentially build a sound argument. “Just as in the US, the holder of a registered trademark in Italy has the right to prevent third parties from using identical or similar trademarks for identical or similar products or services.”
“Given the positioning of Plein’s footwear in the photo – ie., right next to the Ferrari logos, and with the coordinating colours in mind, consumers might be led to believe that the two brands are working in collaboration for Plein’s footwear collection or are otherwise affiliated in some way, which would give rise to merited claims of trademark infringement,” says the report. It’s unclear at the moment whether Ferrari is following through with its plans to file the lawsuit.