My Car Quest

March 23, 2019

Porsche Claims Ownership Of One Of My Images

by Mike –

Sometimes it is a pain to be on the leading edge of the digital evolution.

Porsche claims, “to be the owner or licensee of related intellectual property” (referring to the image shown here) which is an outrageous claim. It seems that someone in their intellectual property protection department is a little over zealous — or their Internet bots need to be reprogrammed. Just because the image is called a Porsche 904 and is an image of a Porsche car does not mean that Porsche owns the image.

I created every pixel in this image starting with a photo that I took and finishing with hours of my work using Photoshop software.

Read the whole sorry story here…

Porsche 904 Art

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Summary
Porsche Claims Ownership Of One Of My Images
Article Name
Porsche Claims Ownership Of One Of My Images
Description
Just because the image is called a Porsche 904 and is an image of a Porsche car does not mean that Porsche owns the image.
Author

Comments

  1. Bob Wachtel says

    That’s just like General Motors claiming ownership of my image of my 1958 customized Chevrolet Impala ragtop.

  2. Richard Bartholomew says

    I’m not a lawyer but the problem might be the nice clear and clean Porsche badge there on the nose. I’m sure it’s copywritten and they license out its use. Maybe smudge it artistically and they won’t complain.

  3. It is my photo as I explain in the article.

  4. Martin Schroeder says

    Why don’t you ask Redbubble for the original letter or email by Porsche AG in order to have a person to write to and explain that their letter is in error. Porsche does not take any legal action against people copying 904s oder 917s.

    Its worth trying.

    • I have asked Redbubble to introduce me to the Porsche representative and they have not done so. Their final letter to me was a generic reply that they send to everyone in this situation. They ignored all the evidence that I sent to them and have not provided any explanation for why Porsche complained about this image.

      This is another case of the big company doing what they want without any recourse by the individual (me).

  5. William G Cooper says

    The Porsche lawyers learned their trademark law from Harley-Davidson during the time H-D had contracted Weissach to do consultation, design the V-Rod and related manufacturing facilities. H-D is one of the most aggressive trademark “defenders” on the planet.

    Also note that while Redbubble is based in Australia, according to Wikipedia it has an office subsidiary in Berlin.
    Perhaps they are extra-cautious when a German firm is involved.

    If you browse Redbubble’s website there are literally hundreds of items which offer Porsche branding, images or actual, clear reprints of the Porsche crest and none display the “Registered”, used with permission “R” in a circle symbol.

    Seeing that Porsche claims the right to control art that you created, why don’t you send Porsche a bill for your image and your lost income from their intervention?

  6. In my 25 year career as a car industry publicist, I have dealt with 36 such incidents. In all but one instance a known collector car photographer hired by an auction or concours owned the image in question. Interestingly, 99% of the objections came from Euro-based manufacturers. Think of the money they spend on policing images!

    PS I probably have a personal photo of the very same car along the very same railing on the west side of Bruce’s showroom. Lol!

  7. William and Cindy,

    Thank you for your comments. I looked deeper into the emails that I have received from Redbubble and they seem to be from Germany. I did not know Redbubble is an Austrian Australian company.

    This statement below is on a German Redbubble page titled “Redbubble’s policy on intellectual property and personal rights”,

    “You may incorporate copyrighted material or third party trademarks in your own work, if justified by the principle of so-called fair use or otherwise permitted (eg by the free use of § 24 UrhG). Please bear in mind, however, that fair use does not exist in all legal systems (eg not in Germany), is usually considered only in a limited way and does not allow the same freedom as eg the freedom of expression.”

    So, it seems like my use of a Porsche car that I photographed and then Photoshopped is not legal in Germany! But I still wonder why the hundreds of other Porsche images are allowed on Redbubble and many other sites like eBay. Remember my image was removed from Redbubble is about 24 hours after I made it public. This would indicate that Porsche either has Internet robots looking or many people searching certain web sites for offending content.

    The friend who was with me the day I shot this photo in 2011 said maybe that Porsche did not like my digital art as it made their car too abstract.

    I plan to ask again for Redbubble to introduce me to the Porsche person who complained.

  8. William G (Bill) Cooper says

    By that logic, Redbubble may not be allowed to ship an offending product into Germany. It would seem that the website and its product offering could and in fact does go into the EU as evidenced by multiple examples.

    I know there are firms that can be hired to be “watchdogs” for trademark usage worldwide and will “flag” certain specified uses and bring them to the attention of their customer on a regular basis, daily if desired. In today’s electronic surveillance age, I would expect the flagging and sending a nasty-gram could easily be done electronically.

    By the way, Redbubble is an Australian company, not Austrian. Think “G’Day mate” or kangaroo.

    When confronted by Porsche, Redbubble just caved and chose not to do business with you, the easy solution for them. I would expect that if Porsche knew that Redbubble was offering products like those pictured in your Jan. 5 response, they would respond in similar fashion.

    • Bill,

      I agree Redbubble took the easy way out which is to not fight a big company and instead trample the rights of an individual (me) in this case. I was reading too fast earlier and have corrected the Australian vs Austrian in my previous comment.

  9. I am not a lawyer, but the image you created of a car is technically YOUR intellectual property rights and YOU can sue or issue a cease and desist order against other people who use YOUR image. Porsche is violating your First Amendment rights, and this opens up a whole can of worms for anybody who takes pictures that they can be stopped and sued by a company like Porsche. Glenn in the Bronx, NY.

  10. Wayne Watkins says

    Unfortunately Porsche think that they are God and that they make the rules of the land . Just look at the ridiculous prices they charge for option packs on their new cars . However fortunately for them , there are enough buyers with very deep pockets and large egos to justify their crazy prices . Let us all hope that others like the Koreans knock them off their high perch with their performance models like the Hyundai N’s with everything standard and included in the list price . People will still pay high prices for the badge though , unless it’s a cheap Chinese MG ! I must apologise for being an Australian as an Australian company is cowering to a power house like Porsche Germany over an honest private citizen creating his own image of one of their old race cars .

  11. Hi Mike – it may be that the IP is the vehicle and the vehicle design itself. I have heard that some manufacturers are now targeting this. A bit like Ferrari and Merc wanting to destroy replicas.

  12. wallace wyss says

    I have not seen the word “art” used much in this discussion. You took the original picture and modified it with technological wizardry but there is no doubt it’s your artistic creation. Does Porsche propose to go to the art galleries where there are paintings of Porsches and confiscate them? Have an “art burning” like the book burnings? Don’t they realize most paintings of Porsches help burnish the legend?

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