updated 4/6/2004 12:39:16 PM ET 2004-04-06T16:39:16

Ford Motor Co. cannot use the name "Futura" for its new midsized sedan because Pep Boys owns the rights to that name, a federal court has ruled.

The automaker sued the Philadelphia-based auto parts retail chain last summer after Pep Boys sent a letter to Ford telling them that the use of the name violated a trademark agreement. Pep Boys has used "Futura" on some of its tires since 1989.

Ford announced it was naming its new sedan Futura at the New York International Auto Show in April of last year. The company took the name from Falcon Futura models built between 1959 and 1962 and Fairmont Futura models in the 1970s and 1980s.

The sedan, which will be sold beginning in 2005, is to be a replacement for the Taurus. It also will eventually be offered as a gas-electric hybrid vehicle.

But the judge recently ruled that Ford had relinquished its rights to Futura when it stopped using the name in the 1980s.

Ford spokeswoman Kathleen Vokes said Ford has no plans to appeal the decision.

In 1995, Ford and Pep Boys settled a dispute over the Futura name after Ford applied for a patent to use it on badges and insignia for cars. Ford officials argued the 1995 deal allowed it to use the Futura name on a new line of cars. Pep Boys disagreed.

Michael Fishman, a trademark lawyer with Rader, Fishman and Grauer, told The Detroit News for a Tuesday story that companies lose trademarks if they stop using them for three consecutive years. In this case, Ford tried to prove it had not abandoned the name.

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