Ford 's revival plans for the Futura nametag in the United States have hit a snag, the Detroit News said.

The paper said Ford is asking a federal judge to approve its use of the name Futura on a new sedan after a national car parts chain accused Ford of infringing on its trademarked brand name for tyres.

In April, the Detroit News noted, Ford said it would build the Futura from 2005, taking the name from the Ford Falcon Futura built between 1959 and 1962.

Ironically, the name Futura has been used since the 1960s by Ford Australia, initially for Falcon-derived coupe models and, more recently, to differentiate mid-line trim versions of its Falcon range.

But in a July 9 letter to Ford in the US, Philadelphia-based Pep Boys sought to block Ford from using the Futura name which it uses on tyres and other products, the Detroit News said.

"We trust that the failure to abide by its obligations was merely an oversight by Ford and now that the matter has been brought to your attention, Ford will promptly abandon any plans to use the Futura mark for a new sedan," Pep Boys lawyer Marsha Gentner wrote to Ford in a letter cited by the newspaper.

In response, the paper said, Ford filed suit in Detroit against Pep Boys and Ford spokeswoman Kathleen Vokes said the company had no plans to abandon the Futura name and was confident of success.

"Futura is a name that Ford has used in the 1950s, '60s, '70s and '80s," Vokes told the Detroit News. "There's no confusion whatsoever between Ford Futura and their tyres."

The name, Vokes told the paper, was also used in the 1970s and 1980s with Fairmont models [a name also used by Ford Australia for decades on top-line Falcon derivatives].

The Detroit News noted that the 2006 mid-size Futura sedan is a key element of Ford's product plan and will fill a gap between the Focus and the larger Five Hundred.

According to the paper, Ford said in its lawsuit that it is "in imminent jeopardy of being sued by Pep Boys for breach of contract" and asked US District Judge Nancy Edmunds to "declare Ford's use of the Futura mark does not infringe on any alleged rights of Pep Boys."

Pep Boys hasn't been formally served with the lawsuit and declined to comment, the company's general counsel, Brian Zuckerman, told the Detroit News.

The paper recalled that, in 1995, Ford and Pep Boys settled a dispute over the Futura name after Ford applied for a patent to use the name on badges and insignia for cars. Ford argues the 1995 deal allows it to use the Futura name on a new line of cars; Pep Boys said the plan is a violation of the agreement, the report added.

The Detroit News said Ford has a pending trademark application to use the Futura name on cars while Pep Boys first used the Futura trademark in 1989.

Auto market intelligence
from just-auto

• Auto component fitment forecasts
• OEM & tier 1 profiles & factory finder
• Analysis of 30+ auto technologies & more