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GM won't budge on 'Judge'
Customizer is told it can't use GTO Judge name

By Richard Truett
Automotive News / October 20, 2003

DETROIT -- General Motors and an aftermarket company that specializes in producing high-performance vehicles both are laying claim to the name "Judge" for a souped-up version of the new Pontiac GTO.

GM believes it owns the name, since it created the GTO Judge, a special performance and appearance model of the GTO marketed from 1969 through 1971. The Judge name has not been used on a vehicle since then. Production of the original GTO ended in 1974.

SLP Engineering, of Troy, Mich., best known for creating the high-performance Firebird Firehawk, says it has made the name a registered trademark in preparation for launching its own high-performance models of the GTO next spring.

SLP founder Ed Hamburger said his company will offer three souped-up GTO models, one with 370 hp, one with 389 hp and one badged the "421 Judge," a version that will make 421 hp.

Lapsed ownership?

Hamburger said SLP researched the Judge name and found that ownership had been allowed to lapse. He says he also trademarked the phrase "Here's Comes The Judge," which could be used in advertising.

"GM created the trademark and it has always been associated with GM and the GTO," said Robert Kraut, GTO brand manager. "You get the right to use the trademark with usage and association."

GM will do whatever is necessary to protect its trademarks, a spokesman said.

Hamburger said SLP's GTO packages are aimed at addressing what GTO enthusiasts say are shortcomings of the new car - the lack of a functional hood scoop, rumbling dual exhausts and an aggressive appearance that signals the car's tire-shredding performance.

GTO purists have been pummeling GM with complaints about the car's styling, which many say is too bland and doesn't contain any of the original car's styling DNA.

GM officials have said they specifically don't want the new GTO to look like the old models for fear it will be perceived as a flash in the pan retro car and have a short shelf life.

Pontiac plans to sell about 18,000 GTOs in the 2004 model year. The car will sell for about $33,000.

Kraut said that an advance-order system put in place last summer has been successful, and that the first buyers are tracking their cars as they are being built. Kraut would not say how many GTOs have been sold, but said he's "cautiously optimistic" that the first year's production will sell out.

The 2004 GTO arrives in early December. It is based on the rear-wheel-drive Holden Monaro from Australia and features a 350-hp, 5.7-liter V-8 and rear-wheel drive.

Bolt-on performance

As with the Firehawk, consumers will buy GTOs from a dealer, who will ship the car to an SLP-approved upfitter to have the performance parts added.

"We've established ourselves in the marketplace as a GM tuner," said Hamburger. "This is the next logical extension of the Firehawk program now that that car has been mothballed."

For the GTO, GM is not sharing technical information with SLP. Kraut said that GM is neutral about SLP's beefed up GTOs.

"Our position is that we encourage the production of aftermarket components for our products," said Kraut. "There is a long history of SLP doing this. We shouldn't be surprised that there is a lot of interest in the GTO."

Kraut would not talk about future GM-built super-tuned versions of the GTO other than to say various groups within GM are looking at the car. "There's a real need for personalization and customization in that category of car."
 

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Get over it GM. If you aren't willing to do what people want, then let someone else pick up where you are too ignorant to step.
 

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*edit*

I love SLP, the new tuner GTO's sound like they'll freaking rock.

(missed the part about horsepower specs, which GM will obviously never do themselves)

With the Firehawk, they got the looks end down. Now with the new GTO maybe they'll get the performance in there as well!
 

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Whoa... I just looked up SLP Engineering and it's like 500 feet from where I work!

I think the GTO I ran into might have been one of theirs, although I wonder if SLP has access to them yet? (probably not now...)
 

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Just heard from someone with the last name 'Hamburger' that GM let the copyright lapse...SLP was smart enough to grab it up...

Kinda puts SLP in the catbird's seat...

Byrdman
 

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GM's Jerky Lawyers need to get a clue.

1. SLP has stuck with GM through thick and thin, even with the loss of real performance cars in the Camaro and Firebird. Who else makes performance tuner house versions of the Buick Regal or appearance pacakages for the Chevy Blazer? Thet's right - NOONE.

2. GM let the Judge and the GTO lapse. Their fault for not giving us the GTO / Judge for so long and feeding Pontiac "sporty" ribbed garbage like the Grand Am SC/T with fake hood scoops for so long.

3. Last I checked, SLP product was sold on Dealer Lots. The customer won't know the difference.

4. Who DOESN'T want a 421 Judge? GM, I guess. Because we'll probably never see that from the Beancounters at GM -- not at least in this decade.

5. GM needs to look at the whole picture and call off the lawyer attack dogs.
 

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"GM created the trademark and it has always been associated with GM and the GTO,"
Hey Bob, the "Heritage" section of the GTO website says the phrase was copied from the [bad] TV show Laugh In. Guess if they had trademarked it, they must have let it lapse. Copyright? Derivative work? Better not go there either. Just be happy you have a GTO to sell.
 

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"The Judge" is a GM trademark.
"Here comes the Judge" could be copyrighted by the network that produced Laugh In. (NBC I think) which probably let GM use it for fear of losing ad revenues. Which means that it's also likely a trademark of GM"
GM, or anyone else, does not have to register the name in order to use it as their trademark. All they have to do is be able to prove they used the name to sell their product first. Which is really easy for GM. All registering a trademark does is easily establishes that proof.
What SLP should have done is trademarked "thejudge" or something similar, but different, then trademarked a logo that looks similar like the original, different enough to prevent any legal problems (say a different font, or without the multicolored outlines).

Or they could throw out the "The Judge" idea, and make up something just as tacky, but modern, like "The Shizzle" then copy all of GM's old ads, saying "Here comes the Shizzle". Maybe then they would realize that The Judge (and The Shizzle) is a stupid name for the car and ask GM is they could use the SD or Super Duty name instead, (you'd think GM would have sued Ford over that one.) since a GTO SD421 or SD350 sounds better than "The Judge" ever will. Plus it's got all that alpha-neumeric crap that GM seems to be fond of nowadays.
 

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Originally posted by Pontiaddict@Oct 29 2003, 10:53 AM
"Here comes the Shizzle".
:afro:
 

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i gotta say that if GM gets it... it wont have 421hp... not anytime soon. That raiting will probably be higher then the new vette, and we ALL know the rule on that.

But to defend GM, SLP blows goat ***. I am ashamed to have spent my hard earned money on them, and I now learned from my mistakes. They are really based out of Toms River, NJ which is abotu 20 mins south of where I live. There customer service is horrid. SLP needs this car so bad it can taste it. They have resorted to selling parts for stangs and as i heard from the man himself, Mr. Hamburger, Lightning parts are on the way. SLP hasnt made a "performance" car since the 91-92 firehawks. Exhaust and a hood isnt performance, its a option for an extra 6k on the end of a base Z28 or TA.

SLP has the rights to Judge and Here comes the Judge. When I talked to Ed Hamburger, he did confirm the judge package along with a bobcat package pushing 389. the raitings are related to the displacement of the old engines.

Only thing we can hope for is that with the new Gen IV blocks due next year, that the GTO gets the new 400+ 6.0, probably detuned because of the corvette rule, but probably between 350 and 400. If not, I think that the GM "judge" will just be GTO's with left over LS6's with 400hp. Like I have said before.. the GTO should have gotten the LS6 from the getgo so you dont have all these aholes talking about that the GTO badge does not belong on the car.
 

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I have SLP's Loudmouth and their y-pipe. No complaints about them. Maybe you should deal with their dealers and not directly from SLP.

I don't think they care much about 3rd gens much any more besides their headers and exhaust.
 

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this is true.... they gave up on what gave them there name and made them who they are today... good move. And there is no SLP dealers around me... its the Hq or online.
 

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The Shizzle? Ha ha ha. You could have Snoop Dogg as the spokesperson. He could be like "It's the Shizzle, Dizzle. Brought to you by the D-O-Double Jizzle." Ha.

:afro: :afro: :afro: :afro: :afro: :afro: :afro: :afro: :afro:
 

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I never was enthusiastic with the name. It always reminds me of something like "The General Lee" on the dukes of Hazzard. Besides, the judge came in the 70's (?) where the body style was not very appealing.

The Tribune ran an article, today, stating that GM has priced the GTO at $31,795 with a $700 transportation charge and the government will add a $1,000 tax for gas guzzling. so, that is $33,495 base on this car.
 
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