Look what I found in my Inbox…

Remember my post from a few days ago, debunking the fake Aston Martin ad that is currently going viral on Facebook and Twitter?
Well, it looks like Aston Martin Lagonda doesn’t appreciate my help….

Just found this in my inbox, an email from Lewis Silkin LLP, apparently acting as Aston Martin Lagonda’s trademark and copyright lawyers:

Subject: Aston Martin – Intellectual Property Rights

Dear Sirs

URGENT – IMMEDIATE ACTION REQUIRED

We act for Aston Martin Lagonda Limited (‘AML’), the world famous car maker.

AML is the copyright owner of the famous Aston Martin ‘wings’ device which can be seen throughout the Aston Martin website (see http://www.astonmartin.com/) and on its vehicles. AML is also the proprietor of various trade marks for ‘ASTON MARTIN’ and the ‘wings’ device (for example, the wings logo is a registered European Community trade mark EU008367823 and the Aston Martin name is a registered European Community trade mark EU008367815). AML is also the operator of the website www.used-astonmartin.com.

AN unauthorised copy of the Aston Martin ‘wings’ device appears in the bottom left hand corner of the image found at http://www.aston-martin.com/2013/02/24/ad-for-used-aston-martins-fake-or-real/. The image also uses without authorisation AML’s trade marks for the wings device and ASTON MARTIN (in the phrase ‘Aston Martin pre-owned’ and in the domain name www.used-astonmartin.com).

The image appears to be an advertisement for Aston Martin pre-owned cars but has not been authorised or approved by AML. For the avoidance of doubt, AML has never consented to the use of its name or ‘wings’ device or domain name in this image.

Accordingly, the reproduction of the ‘wings’ device in the image constitutes copyright infringement; and the use of the ASTON MARTIN name and ‘wings’ device trademarks constitute trade mark infringement; and the image itself brings the Aston Martin brand into disrepute and is defamatory of AML.

Given the seriousness of this matter we ask that you take down the infringing image immediately, both at the URL referred to above and anywhere else that it may appear on www.aston-martin.com.

Yours faithfully

LEWIS SILKIN LLP

Wow… just wow…
Anyway, this is how I responded:

Hi Mr. Ross,

I think there is a misunderstanding here.
FYI: I am a customer of AML and owner of 2 Aston Martins myself. I am a huge fan of Aston Martin and the brand. In my spare time, I run the aston-martin.com news blog, with permission from AML itself. I would never create or write anything to harm AML or the Aston Martin brand.

I did not create or distribute this image. I found this image on Twitter for the first time last Saturday and again on Sunday. Immediately concluding that this could never be a real Aston Martin advertisement, I decided to write about it on my blog, telling the world that this advertisement is NOT a real Aston Martin ad, but just a photoshopped fake ad.
Since then, I have been telling everyone who is spreading this image on Facebook and Twitter that this in fact not a real ad created by Aston Martin, referring people to my blog post.

I have removed the image from my site now, but I must say that I am disappointed that after helping AML to debunk this hoax, your letter is my reward…

Looking forward to your reply,

Alwin Hoogerdijk
Aston-Martin.com

11 Comments:

  1. What pompous cretins!

  2. While I do agree that these ads are not in line with the Aston Martin brand and I get that they are trying to protect their image, this is going too far.

    Not only do they show that they don’t understand how the internet works, but they come off as humourless a-holes.

    I would have understood if they issued a statement, but DEMANDING that you take down the images … OR ELSE?!? This in not is not even remotely funny.

    And there I was thinking they had a sense of humour… after all they created the Cygnet.

  3. They didn’t even spot that it says ‘Pre Owed’ and not Pre Owned!

  4. Lighten up, the “model” has equal “lines” to most Aston Martins. To sell more cars, perhaps she’d agree to pose (in more fully clothed condition) for an authorized ad? Signed: Porsche 356/911 owner for over 30 years…..

  5. did you have any response ?

    • No response from the lawyer himself, but I did get a phone call from Aston Martin Europe, offering their apologies for the above email and letting me know that they were happy with my blog.
      So all is well 🙂

  6. For fun, if you had linked the image in to the page from one if many locations, you would not have been reproducing it, and they couldn’t tell you to take it down as you weren’t hosting it. Of course that might not be in the best interests of your blog given your AML endorsement, but it would leave the lawyers powerless to tell you what to do 🙂 Bit disappointing to hear the ad was fake because it was brilliant!

  7. Absolutely brilliant and effective. I sent it to my brother who responded that he had be considering the purchase of a used auto but hadn’t considered an Aston. He now feels compelled. That is great advertising!

  8. Well, a copyright holder has a duty to protect their trademark, or risk losing it. That means that AML is *obliged* to tell you to stop using their trademark. It does not necessarily mean that they have malicious intent.

    • Thanks for that trademark lesson. I didn’t need your lesson though, I own multiple trademarks myself and we send letters like this ourselves all the time.

      But of course, the above wasn’t about “me using their trademark” at all. It was about AML stupidly trying to force all sites on the internet to remove this stupid fake ad, and while doing so, stupidly ALSO including my site, a fan site of a loyal AML customer, which was EXPLAINING THAT THE AD WAS FAKE.

  9. Savvy companies sometimes surreptitiously create/allow ‘teapot tempests’ for the guerrilla marketing free press it’ll garner in their denying or disavowing it.

    I’d once tried to get a ‘cease & desist’ from the national Milk Processor Education Program by using their “Got Milk?” slogan in a billboard that boldly proclaimed “Got KI?”, which is an anti-radiation pill. They’d sued others that had used similar, but in my case they did not bite. I’d of promptly pulled billboard if threatened, but not before getting as much press all about it first.

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