Now Haas is suing Günther Steiner! Second legal dispute between Formula 1 divorcees

At the beginning of the year, Haas separated from his long-time team boss Günther Steiner. A separation that becomes increasingly messy. After Steiner sued the team for outstanding payments a few days ago, his former employer is now hitting back with a lawsuit of his own.

On May 3, Haas filed a lawsuit in a California court alleging trademark infringement. The allegations revolve around Steiner’s book ‘Surviving to drive’, published in 2023, in which he chronologically recounts his 2022 year in Formula 1. Steiner and his publisher Ten Speed ​​Press are said to have illegally used trademarked Haas symbols.

This is about the photos in the book. In various places these people show off in Haas team clothing or the 2022 car. Of course, in all cases with logos and lettering from Haas Automation. This is the tool company founded by team owner Gene Haas.

Haas distances himself from Steiner: Nothing to do with the book

Steiner never sought permission from Haas Automation to use the trademarked logos and lettering, the lawsuit says. However, Steiner would intentionally use them in the book and in marketing for the sole purpose of capitalizing on “Haas Automation’s famous name and its established consumer awareness, celebrity, goodwill and reputation.”

Haas claims to have informed Steiner of this view in advance. However, no action has been taken to deem an immediate lawsuit necessary. Haas distances himself from Steiner’s book: “It is likely that consumers believe, contrary to the facts, that [das Buch] is sold, authorized or otherwise sponsored by Haas Automation, or that [Steiner und sein Verlag] sponsored or endorsed in any way by Haas Automation.”

Steiner and Gene Haas originally built the F1 team together, photo: Sutton
Steiner and Gene Haas originally built the F1 team together, photo: Sutton

According to an estimate in the lawsuit, 150,000 books were sold at times, generating $4.5 million in revenue. Haas is now demanding damages for copyright infringement, false designation of origin and unfair business practices. Furthermore, they want compensation for any costs incurred to clear up the confusion caused and destroy the affected products. The extent of the damages should be determined during the legal proceedings.

In a brief overview of the case, the American specialist publication estimates National Law Reviewthat Steiner could probably defend himself with ‘fair use’, which is often used in US copyright law. To put it very simply: If the logos are present without suggesting cooperation between the parties, this would be allowed. In Steiner’s book, the logos can only be seen in photos, but Haas Automation is effectively the title sponsor of the Formula 1 team and is therefore particularly prominent. That makes the situation unclear.

At the same time, Steiner is also suing Haas, as mentioned. Here the scenario is reversed: Steiner claims that Haas continues to benefit from his reputation, for example with merchandise and advertising material – without compensating him for it. More about this legal dispute can be found here:

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