IMS fires back in trademark dispute with Formula 1


The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has reignited a simmering trademark dispute with Formula 1 and its partners, and vows to take "every measure possible" to protect its intellectual property.

The source of the contention between the two parties? The iconic phrase 'The Greatest Spectacle in Racing', trademarked by former IMS owner Hulman and Company in 1986 and woven into the fabric of the Indianapolis 500's identity.

Last year, the flashpoint emerged when the Las Vegas Grand Prix, owned by F1's parent company Liberty Media, utilized the phrase "the greatest racing spectacle on the planet" on social media to promote its upcoming 2023 event.

While Indianapolis initially received assurances from F1 that the issue wouldn't persist, a similar phrase – "the greatest spectacle in motorsports" – was used by rapper LL Cool J during driver introductions at last year’s Miami Grand Prix.

Despite further communication between IMS and F1, the issue resurfaced this week. ESPN, F1's official US broadcaster, used the contested phrase in a season preview trailer, prompting a renewed response from IMS president Doug Boles.

Boles expressed disappointment in a statement, highlighting the importance of independent brand identity and the continued infringement on their trademark.

“We are aware of the use of our mark in what appears to be a broadcast promotional spot,” Boles told the Indianapolis Star.

“We will once again address it with the appropriate people and are prepared to take every measure possible to protect our brand’s intellectual property.

“It continues to be disappointing that others can’t create their own brand identity without infringing upon ours.”

Coincidentally, Indy’s trademarked battle cry was also used by NASCAR on social media in a video posted on its Threads account last week. However, the post was quickly deleted.

“It feels to me that was an honest mistake,” Boles commented. “But if they’d kept it up, we absolutely would’ve had a conversation.

"You have to enforce it every single time. Sometimes people give us a hard time when we shut down a mom-and-pop company, but if you don't shut [them] down, and someone like F1 does this, then you have no standing to shut them down.

“But it's harder these days. You didn't use to have all these different mediums."

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