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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."

Hopefully they can work something out, but GM should get the Judge nameplate, let SLP get their own name.
 

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Sounds like the lawyers will get some money duking this one out. I hope they get it done soon. Can you imagine an SLP Judge and a GM Judge at the same time. That would screw everything up.



:confused: :drink: :drink: :drink:
 

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Man, SLP has really been winning people over as of late.

Actually I thought I saw a thread about this on NEwage a few weeks back.

Sad that some people can't leave GM property alone.
 

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LS1GTO Traitor
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Thanks for the article DevilYellow. I can't believe that SLP will take this issue to the mat........unless they'd like to switch from tuning GM cars to Ford cars.
 

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WOT's up?
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This definately puts SLP in a bind. They will be Hamburger (literally and figuratively) if they choose to fight the big guys. SLP must have made a whole lot of money and name recognition off the Firehawk - all that will go away.

I for one have always thought their components were over rated and over priced. Now with the Aussies competing for aftermarket bolt-ons...do the math.

Not a smart move to stir up the hornets nest. GM has the money to put them under - if it wishes.

Hasta la vista, baby!
 

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13 year owner
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Good, I see I'm not the only that thinks SLP is getting a little too big for their britches. They've done a number of things lately to rub people the wrong way.
 

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The samething happened to Ford with naming the GT. They wanted to call it the GT40 but they found out the a engineering company in Dayton Ohio registered the name when Ford's rights to the name ran out. They wanted around 10 million dollars to sell the name back to Ford so Ford decided to change the name of the car to the Ford GT.

GM no longer owns those names and will have to pay what ever SLP wants to get them back.

It's a case of you snooze you loose.
 

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You think GM would be on top of that though.
 

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Sewell Pontiac
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That is an interesting article but you know if the GTO purists are saying that the car is bland take a look at the original GTO. That has got to be one of the blandest (if that is a word) looking muscle cars to date. It took a few years before the GTO's looks caught up with its performance. It should be interesting who wins this fight.
 

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13 year owner
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Jason, I've been saying the same thing to all these people complaining about the styling. The 64, 65 and 66 GTO's looked like every other Pontiac, my 66 Catalina included. They seem to forget that the GTO was spawned from a basic commuter car known as the Tempest. Tempest weren't trend setters in terms of styling. It wasn't until the final years when they added orange paint, big wing and, "JUDGE" stickers that it stood out.
 
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