The son of the late Steve McQueen is suing Ferrari North America Inc., alleging the car maker infringed on a trademark by selling a vehicle called “The McQueen” without consulting the actor’s family.
Chadwick McQueen’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit was filed Monday and alleges trademark infringement, false endorsement and designation of origin, right of publicity and common law unfair competition. City National Bank also is a plaintiff because the company is the trustee of the Terry McQueen Testamentary Trust, named after the actor’s late daughter, who died at age 38 in 1998. The actor’s granddaughter, Molly McQueen, is the trust’s beneficiary.
“Ferrari’s unauthorized use of Steve McQueen’s intellectual property has damaged plaintiffs,” the suit alleges, adding that the car maker has “deprived the family of the commensurate compensation for use of the Steve McQueen name and likeness.”
Ferrari renamed the car “The Actor” in response to a protest from the McQueen family, but the company continues to reference McQueen on its website, the suit states.
The suit seeks unspecified damages and an injunction preventing Ferrari from making, selling or distributing any products using the Steve McQueen name.
A Ferrari representative could not be immediately reached.
“McQueen had a passion for speed and danger,” according to the lawsuit, which recalls the actor’s enthusiasm for cars and motorcycles. One of his films, “Bullitt,” featured a high-speed car chase through San Francisco and vicinity. This October will be the 50th anniversary of its release.
According to the complaint, Chadwick McQueen toured the Ferrari factory in 2011 with the company’s president and chairman. The two talked about a special McQueen-edition car provided that the plaintiff and his family would maintain approval rights and involvement in the project, according to the complaint.
McQueen says that his family was surprised when they found out in 2017 that Ferrari had begun marketing and selling a special-edition car that Ferrari titled “The McQueen,” and that Ferrari marketed through use of Steve McQueen’s persona.
He says Ferrari did it to promote the 70th anniversary of the Ferrari brand.
“Ferrari marketed `The McQueen’ to its key customers as an extremely limited edition `McQueen livery’ and carting a significant price increase over a standard Ferrari model,” the suit states.
McQueen died in November 1980 of cancer at age 50.