A cheeky homage to Volvo’s sometimes staid reputation may soon become a thing of the past now that Volvo has sent a cease and desist letter to the creator of the prancing moose logo over his use of the Swedish company’s trademark on restoration parts.
As Dave Barton shared on his site, PrancingMoose.com, the cease and desist letter came directly from Volvo Trademark Holdings in Sweden right around Easter weekend “after years of Volvo offering silent indifference” to the reproduction Volvo logos Barton has offered through the site and to the site’s namesake stickers, which riff on the Scuderia Ferrari prancing horse with a full-grown moose rearing on its hind legs under a Volvo logo on a yellow background.
“Other than Volvo dealers using my products, Volvo Cars has never attempted to contact me with any objections or concerns,” Barton wrote. “I would certainly have welcomed such a discussion had they done so.”
Since 2005, when he came up with the idea, Barton has offered the popular parody logo in a number of configurations and formats – as patches, air fresheners, keychains, and as overlays for wheel centers and grille badges. He even offers separate designs riffing on Porsche’s crest and Lamborghini’s charging bull; to date Ferrari, Porsche, and Lamborghini have not sent him cease and desist letters.
Barton said he even got a copyright on the design in 2007 and has since branched out to providing replicas of body and engine labels for older cars that Volvo no longer offers.
“Throughout this time the Volvo Prancing Moose was a very public image and Volvo was aware of its scope and popularity among so many other Volvo owners attending those events,” Barton wrote. “Since the stickers I made fostered positive relations between Volvo and Volvo car owners, there was never a hint of an objection.”
And Volvo officials had plenty of opportunity to object. As a longtime president of the Southern California chapter of the Volvo Club of America, Barton said he interacted with a number of employees at Volvo’s office in Irvine, California. He even displayed his own Volvo – sporting the stickers on each front fender – at that office.
Regardless of the goodwill and the relationship Barton developed with Volvo, he said he has yet to receive an explanation why the company has suddenly decided to object to his use of the logo.
“My theory is that they basically have people sit on their computers and look for trademark violations all day long, and maybe they have a new person who wasn’t familiar with their policy of ignoring me,” he said. “This is just a hobby with me; it’s not something I make very much money on. But my loyalty to Volvo has thinned right out.”
Barton admitted on his site that Volvo has a right to enforce its trademark, so he has removed any products from his site – including the body and engine labels critical to some restorers – that include Volvo trademarks. Prancing moose stickers not featuring Volvo trademarks remain for sale on his site, and Barton said he may modify some of his product offerings to remove the Volvo trademarks. He said he has tried to contact Volvo personnel in the United States for clarification and for an appeal, but to no avail.
Volvo officials have not responded to requests for comment on the cease and desist letter.
Ideally, Barton said, he’d like to discuss obtaining a license from Volvo that would allow him to once again offer items including the Volvo trademarks.
In the meantime, at least a couple of petitions have sprouted up on Change.org, with the intent of spreading word of the issue and convincing Volvo to work out some sort of agreement with Barton that would allow him to continue selling his products. One described the prancing moose as “the symbol for Volvo passion.” As of press time, neither petition has yet met its signature goal.