GM Sues Mongoos Motorsports

One of the rarest roadsters ever offered by the General was the Corvette Grand Sport roadster of which only five were ever built. Like other rare race hardware they bring millions when one of them does come up for sale. However, Mongoose Motorsports LLC of Cuyahoga Fall, Ohio has been turning out turn key replica versions of the Grand Sport for around $90,000.

General Motors has decided that the Mongoose Grand Sport is trademark infringement and has irreparable harmed the iconic Corvette brand. GM spokesman Tom Wilkinson said flat out that the Mongoose "is not an homage" but just another counterfeit. GM is seeking to bar the company from producing, and selling any model that uses Corvette designs, the destruction of all signs, ads, and labels bearing Corvette trademarks, unrestricted access to Mongoose's office and financial records, and of course financial damages.

When The Detroit News attempted to contact Gary Krause Jr. operations manager of Mongoose he was unaware of any action being taken against the company. He declined further comment. The Grand Sport was to be GM's answer to world championship sports car racing with plans to produced 125, but early on the project was canceled with just five having been built.

RM Auctions recently had one of the five Grand Sports come to auction with a top bid of $4.9 million, however, it still fell short of the auctions reserve price. The car was later sold privately. GM already licenses companies to build replica vehicles, and Wilkinson said that it is a lucrative revenue stream for the company. In fact they have exclusively licensed a company to produce a "official" 1963 Grand Sport, Duntov Motor Company of Texas build period correct cars starting at $189,000. Currently Duntov builds about four cars per year for discerning automotive enthusiasts, and their website hints at GM's crack down. "We have been told these unauthorized manufacturers will be dealt with by the GM legal team," according to the Web site.

Many companies around the world produce replica cars all with varying levels of legality, much of it differs from Country to Country. In Italy police sized and destroyed several replica Ferrari and Lamborghini cars due to trademark infringement. Carroll Shelby is well known for defending his company trademarks from the hundreds of companies producing just about every car his company has built.

On the Mongoose Web site, the company touts similarities between its replica and the original Corvette Grand Sport: "The GS frame, designed by Altair engineering, one of the largest aircraft-engineering firms in the country, replicates the original GS design, utilizes the suspension from 1988-96 Corvettes with fully adjustable front and rear coil over shocks."

At the bottom of the Web site, in small print, it reads: "It is neither inferred nor implied that any item offered by Mongoose Motorsports is a product of, authorized by or in any way connected with any vehicle manufactured by General Motors. The Trademarks Corvette, Stingray, Chevrolet, GM and the Corvette emblems are Trademarks of General Motors Corporation."

GM pursued legal action against Mongoose because Wilkinson said the company is copying the Corvette's specific design and challenging the automaker's trademark.

"If we don't enforce this, we can lose control of our various trademarks," Wilkinson said.