Should Father and Son Building a 3D Printed Lamborghini also Build an Attorney?

The car in progress. From Backus’ Facebook page.

Family fun time is a great thing but when it leads to a lawsuit, I might be time to rethink about going to the movies instead.

Sterling Backus is a physicist and I do not believe they earn enough to buy a $400,000 car. So if Backus couldn’t buy the car, he and his son are making one instead. On his Facebook page detailing the build, Backus claims that the reason for the project is to “show kids how cool science and engineering are”. The car will consist of a steel frame but with a 3D printed exterior and interior. So far Backus has thrown $20,000 into the project. Backus does not have authorization, as one would expect, from Lamborghini to make its own line of cars.

Lamborghini, as one of the most costly brands of cars, needs to be very protective of both the copyright and trademarks. There is a certain cache associated with the name and protecting the brand is an important part of that.  So let’s look at what potential legal calamities can beset Backus.

Calling the product a Lamborghini: Lamborghini has a registered and unregistered marks for LAMBORGHINI and if it is used in association with products that are not actually officially licensed it could be considered trademark infringement and counterfeiting.

Reproducing the Lamborghini Logo.  This is similar to the above as the logo is also a trademark. To reproduce it would be trademark infringement and counterfeiting.

Reproducing the Interior and Exterior Look. Lamborghini has protectable copyright in the distinct, non-functional, aspects of its car. So to make this pirated car, is essential copyright infringement.

I can see Lamborghini not moving to enforce its intellectual property rights here since going after a father and son over their bonding project would not look good.  However, if Bakus tries to sell the car or even mass produce it, he will definitely need to 3D print his own legal team.