DETROIT (April 5, 2004) — Futura won´t be part of Ford Motor Co.'s future.
It turns out that the Pep Boys—Manny, Moe & Jack chain of auto parts stores owns the name. Ford Motor Co. doesn´t want to pay Pep Boys, so now it is scrambling to rename one of its replacements for the Taurus.
"We just don´t have a name as of yet," says Ford spokesman Jim Cain. "We´re getting close."
Ford wanted to use the Futura name for a mid-sized sedan scheduled to go on sale in 2005. The new name must start with the letter "F," according to Ford Division´s naming strategy.
It is the second time in two years that Ford has muffed plans to recycle a heritage name. In 2002, Ford changed the name of its GT40 sports car to GT after failing to reach an agreement with the owner of the GT40 trademark.
Pep Boys says it began using the name Futura on tires in 1964. Ford Motor first used the name Futura on a 1955 Lincoln concept that later became TV´s Batmobile.
When Ford announced last April that it would use the Futura name, Pep Boys objected. Ford sued for the rights in U.S. District Court in Detroit. A judge ruled in December that a 1995 agreement between the two companies blocked Ford from using the name on a new vehicle.
Pep Boys says it offered to license the name to Ford, but Ford declined.
"We were perfectly willing to reach a business deal with them," says Brian Zuckerman, Pep Boys´ general counsel. "But I guess they don´t want to be held hostage. But it´s our marque, and we need to protect our marque."