ICON is the go-to company when you want a bespoke example of a beloved machine from the past. Currently, the company is best known for its excellent interpretation of the old school Bronco and FJ Cruiser. ICON also produced the oh-so-Hoon-lusty Business Coupe. The quality of the company’s work is stunning, and the vehicles are quite expensive as a result. In fact, news of their latest venture just popped up on our radar. It shouldn’t be a surprise then that Hot Wheels saw fit to turn the ICON FJ Series into a scale-model toy.
There’s a problem though, they never spoke to ICON about the project.
Here is the story per the most recent ICON newsletter:
Now we have a less charming story related to how companies can be run. Whereas we have tried to build a company that is a true reflection of our passion and accountability, not all are built as such. As a lifetime fan of Hot Wheels, imagine our initial excitement when we received several emails from friends congratulating us on the Hot Wheels deal. “Hot wheels deal, what Hot Wheels deal?” , I said. So we went to their website and saw they were releasing a new FJ40 model. As I studied their details, and even their launch rendering, I quickly realized that they based it on our ICON FJ40 Baja Edition. Other than some ugly colors and logos, it was our design, trademark and trade dress. Actually, their photo was a quick rendering over a PR shot of me jumping one of our Baja’s in the desert. You can even see my balding head still in the truck!
So then I innocently asked a friend who used to work there, “what’s up?” He said they must have made an honest mistake, and advised me to reach out to the current Director of Design for Hot Wheels, Alec Tam. I sent him a few emails and never got a response. So then I called and got a belittling voicemail where he basically told me to take a hike and that there was no validity to my claim. So much for a friendly discussion… So after a few legal letters back and forth, their attorney said that they wished to settle this out of court, and they asked for thirty days to collect data related to how many had been distributed. So on day 31… we reached out to them again. This time they said if you think you have a claim, sue us. You guys are a small company and we are a big one, so go ahead and try! Sad to see such a great brand run in such a manner, isn’t it? We lack the funds to pour into a legal case to defend our mark and ! I thought this story was worth sharing. Any TM lawyers out there interested in helping us right this wrong? Shame on you Hot Wheels! Consider these facts when you make your next relevant purchase…
We’ve reached out to Hot Wheels for their side of the story, and we will update you as soon as we hear back.