Speaking with MotorAuthority Ford's head of digital media and communications, Scott Monty, said, "They were offering items for sale on their site, Ford-branded material that was not authorized by Ford." Monty also expressed a personal opinion that the sites' domain names should not be affected by the sale of counterfeit items. The site accused of selling the counterfeit goods has not yet responded on these grounds.
The law firm representing Ford in the matter, Howard Phillips & Andersen, has sent a statement to MustangEvolution, a Ford enthusiast site tracking the development of the story. "Ford is not trying to shut down the entire website, just stop the counterfeiting of its trademarks. If the Ranger Station wants a license it needs to seek one from Ford. But I don’t think Ford will license some of the images, particularly the naked woman straddling the Ford Blue Oval," wrote attorney Gregory D. Phillips.
Though it hasn't yet been spelled out by Ford's legal department, the issue doesn't seem to lie with the fans' use of the Ford logo, but with the sale of goods bearing that logo, i.e. using Ford's trademark for commercial purposes.
A side-effect of the rapid spread of the news of Ford's legal action against the site is that many other fan sites are worried they could be next - though absent sale of counterfeit goods, the worry is baseless. "This is the last thing we want people to do...these are our fans, these are people that show us good will and are loyal to us and that would probably fall over themselves to buy a Ford product," said Monty. "They're the last people we want to alienate."
Going after people that choose to support the brand and provide a place for others who share the desire to do so, usually out of pocket or nearly so, despite small merchandising efforts, does seem to miss the mark in protecting the company's interests - so much so that there had to be more to the story.
This is a fact that Ford, and in particular Monty, realize all too well. "This is the last PR headache we need right now," he said.