Trademark Litigation Over General Patton Name and Likeness


The estate of famed World War II General George S. Patton is going after a specialty car-maker for use of the terms “General Patton” and “Patton” and images of the general on its vehicles in a trademark lawsuit.


According to the Wall Street Journal, Southern California-based U.S. Specialty Vehicles makes modified military assault-style vehicles based on Ford F350 and F450 truck chassis.  The company has been selling its vehicles to appeal to macho car buyers attracted to its tough and bulked up tank-like exterior, under the name “General Patton.”   The Wall Street Journal reported that the vehicles are initially being promoted in the world’s largest auto market—China. “Gen. Patton is built like an armored vehicle…[while it] doesn’t actually have armor…the appeal comes from a projection of power,” says Tim Tang, one of the firm’s principals.   U.S. Specialty Vehicles told the Wall Street Journal in April 2014, that after an initial auto show in China it had already sold 18 vehicles, and hoped to sell about 20 per month.  The military-style vehicles retail for $575,800 U.S.


Now U.S. Specialty Vehicles is being sued for trademark infringement by CMG Worldwide Inc., which represents the Patton estate.  According to the complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, the family alleges that U.S. Specialty Vehicles’, “misuse of General Patton’s name, likeness, images, personae, and initials in connection with the marketing and sales of a certain specialty vehicle is willful, oppressive and malicious and is intended to cause confusion about the endorsement or sponsorship of the product.”


The family also alleges that, after it learned of the misuse by U.S. Specialty, CMG sent a cease and desist letter, which in turn promoted U.S. Specialty to attempt to register a trademark for “G. Patton” in connection with the vehicles. Allegedly the USPTO refused to register U.S. Specialty’s trademark due to CMG’s ownership of the mark.


As in the Patton case, if you have questions about trademark infringement or have an issue with someone else using your intellectual property, you need an experienced business litigator who understands trademark protection.  James J. “Jim” Thomas II has more than 35 years of experience advising Georgia businesses and handling complex business litigation including intellectual property matters like trademark infringement.  Jim can help you with the analysis, evaluation, and resolution of existing and potential litigation including in intellectual property disputes. Visit online, or give Jim a call at 404-869-5248 to set up a free consultation.

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