Haas sue Guenther Steiner over alleged trademark infringements

By on

Formula One's sole American outfit Haas have sued their former team boss Guenther Steiner, claiming that the Italian engineer committed trademark infringements since his departure from the Kannapolis-based team.

The American outfit's owner Gene Haas elected against extending team boss Guenther Steiner's contract at the start of the year which meant that the Italian left Haas ahead of the new season after having played a fundamental role in setting up the operation back in 2015.

However, Steiner has been playing an active role since his departure from Haas as he has been appointed ambassador of the Miami Grand Prix. Moreover, he also started to work for the German TV channel RTL as a pundit, which will see him attend several races across the season.

Despite the early signs, it now appears that Guenther's departure has not been as smooth as it first looked. It emerged at the start of May that Steiner is suing his old team, alleging a breach of contract over unpaid commissions in his final years in charge. Moreover, he also states that Haas continue to use his name, image and likeness “in its promotional materials and merchandise”.

Steiner’s attorneys wrote in the lawsuit: “After years of accepting the benefits of Mr. Steiner’s reputation, experience, and deep connections within the sport, Haas F1 cannot withhold from Mr. Steiner the benefits he has earned.

Expanding on how profitable Steiner's book, Drive to Survive, has been for Haas, they add: “This exposure was extremely valuable to the upstart racing team, particularly as it looked for additional revenue streams to support itself in the notoriously expensive Formula 1 environment.”

The response from Haas

In response, Haas has now sued Steiner over alleged trademark infringements, claiming that their former team boss committed trademark infringements since his departure from the Kannapolis-based team.

Haas claims that Steiner has been using their images for his book Survive to Drive that was released in April 2023. The American outfit disclosed that Steiner was contacted prior to the lawsuit, but they did not receive an adequate response. As a result, Haas have asked the court for a trial by jury.

Haas’ legal document alleges: “Without permission or consent from Haas Automation, Steiner authored, marketed, promoted, sold, distributed, and profited from a publication titled “Surviving to Drive” (the “Accused Product”), which unlawfully used and displayed, and continues to use and display, the Haas Automation Trademarks and the Haas Automation Trade Dress for Steiner’s personal financial gain and illicit profit.

“Haas Automation never consented to Steiner’s use of the Haas Automation Trademarks or the Haas Automation Trade Dress on the Accused product. Haas Automation gave pre-lawsuit notice to Steiner but to date Steiner has taken no action to cease or mitigate his infringing acts, necessitating the instant lawsuit,” the documents add.

“Steiner sells and promoted the Accused Product in various mediums, including without limitation print and digital, in violation of Haas Automation’s exclusive intellectual property rights. Information available online indicates that as of January 2024, the Accused Product has exceeded sales of at least 150,000 units and generated revenue of at least $4,500,000.”