Steve McQueen's Children Sue Ferrari for Using His Name to Sell Cars

Ferrari 458 Italia
Courtesy of Ferrari

A Ferrari 458 Italia transforms into an Autobot named Dino.

The "Steve McQueen Effect" is about to be tested in a Los Angeles court.

As explained in a new lawsuit brought by McQueen's children, anything associated with the deceased movie legend — "especially cars — drives value. As examples, the complaint points to a 1970 Porsche 917K featured in the McQueen film Le Mans that auctioned for over $14 million a year ago.

Now, however, Ferrari finds itself answering for "The McQueen," said to be special-edition automobile allegedly marketed through the use of the late actor's persona.

According to the complaint, Chad McQueen personally visited Ferrari in 2011, meeting the then-chairman of the automaker and expressing interest in a special McQueen car provided he and his family would maintain approval rights. According to the complaint, the McQueen family was subsequently "shocked when they learned, in 2017, that Ferrari had, without notice or authorization, begun marketing and selling a special edition Ferrari that Ferrari entitled 'The McQueen.'"

Ferrari advertised the vehicle online and distributed brochures that incorporated McQueen's photo, continues the complaint. That is, until the McQueen family objected.

"Although Ferrari renamed the car in question 'The Actor,' Ferrari continues to reference Steve McQueen expressly on the Ferrari webpage for 'The Actor,' and there can be no reasonable question as to which 'Actor' Ferrari is linking to the car," states the complaint.

With claims of trademark infringement, false endorsement and misappropriation of the right of publicity, the plaintiffs represented by attorneys at Browne George Ross demand $1 million in compensatory damages, and $2 million in statutory damages per registered trademark.

Here's the complaint.