Judge puts brakes on Hummer wannabe
Looks like Goliath has slain
David – at least for now.
U.S. District Court Judge David
Warren Hagan late last month ruled
that the Let’s Make a Deal car dealership
in Reno no longer can sell or
advertise its Hummer look-alike kit
car until the lawsuit brought against
it by General Motors Corp. has been
GM, maker of the commercial
version of the Humvee military utility
vehicle called the Hummer H2,
recently sued the Reno car dealer for
trademark infringement (see Northern
Nevada Business Weekly, August 26,
page 3). Let’s Make a Deal had been
advertising and selling a so-called kit
car that provides a Hummer-like
exterior that can be installed on
another car frame to reproduce the
pricey SUV for a lot less money.
The preliminary injunction preventing
Let’s Make a Deal from continuing
to sell its kit car was the first
step in what could become a lengthy
and expensive suit for the car dealer.
“I have to decide whether I want
to pit myself against GM,” said
Richard Castellanos, owner of the
used-car lot. “My attorney has said it
will cost about $80,000 to pursue the
case. No doubt [GM] has a large
fund and will see it to the end.”
Not if automaker and Let’s Make
a Deal can settle the case first.
Castellanos said he is amenable to
being bought out by GM.
So far, he has assembled one
Hummer on the body of a 1998 Ford
Ranger and has two unassembled
bodies in stock. In addition, he has
advertised the kit car and made several
trips to the Philippines where
the kit car is manufactured.
Castellanos declined to say how
much all that has cost.
For its part, GM would consider
settling the case, too, if Castellanos
gets out of the Hummer kit car business.
“We are willing to talk to
them,” said Gregory D. Phillips, a
partner with Howard, Phillips &
Anderson, a law firm in Salt Lake
City that is representing GM.
“Basically we want them to stop not
on a preliminary basis but on a permanent
basis and to tell us where
they get the kits.”
Castellanos’ attorney responded to
the preliminary injunction. The next
step is for GM to provide documentation
proving trademark infringement
– unless the two parties can
settle the case first.
“If you’re going to produce roughly 80,000 ounces (of gold) a year at $800 an ounce … and gold is at $1,900 or $2,000 per ounce, that’s going to create a tremendous amount of cash flow.”