Carroll Shelby sues his fan Club

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    Carroll Shelby wants the Shelby American Automobile Club to stop using his name and related images, and he has now filed a lawsuit in a bid to make that happen.

    The lawsuit is the latest step in a battle between Shelby and the 5000-member for-profit club. Shelby claims the club has not been involving him in marketing efforts and providing him with financial statements–requirements of a licensing agreement with the club.

    Previously, club owners Ken Eber and Rick Kopec have rejected Shelby’s claims. They also have refused to give in to Shelby’s demand that they turn over the club’s records on Shelby cars and their authenticity.

    Shelby’s lawsuit, filed on Tuesday, Jan. 29, seeks to force the club to stop using the name. The licensing agreement between Shelby and the club expired on Thursday, Jan. 31.

    That year-to-year licensing agreement renewed automatically since the club owners signed it in 1999, according to the lawsuit.

    But Shelby, through business units Carroll Shelby Licensing Inc. and Carroll Hall Shelby Trust, announced on Dec. 7, 2007, that it would not renew the license. It cited disregard for the license requirements and other business considerations as the reason.

    Shelby claims the club has made a lot of money but “never counted me in on anything,” according to a Dec. 3, 2007, report in Automotive News.

    “I don’t want my legacy to go down under their thumbprints,” Shelby said.

    In the Automotive News report, Kopec said the club “pays for itself. There is no money left over.” He added that most of the revenue comes from dues, which are $47 for the first year and $40 annually.

    Shelby’s lawyer demanded that the club return all Shelby-related merchandise and turn over its financial statements.

    Kopec said he doesn’t mind if Shelby wants to end the agreement, but he won’t hand over registration information.

    “We have put a lot of hard work into this club,” he said. (Autoweek)


    What do ya’ll think about this?


    as if the guy need the money any way. crazy. why didnt he put a stop to this years ago. i think its sad and it may effect his image due to some bad publicity and word of mouth. all i say is why doesnt he come to some agreement and take some of the earnings and set up a charity to the people out in Iraq or for the kids?


    It’s not about whether or not he needs the money, it’s about honoring a contract which the club owners have not. Shelby might be an old cuss, but the club has a lot of explaining to do also.

    Shelby’s response

    “I wanted to explain my concerns to the members of the Shelby American Automobile Club directly, but couldn’t because SAAC has refused to give me a list of its members, even though the licensee agreement with SAAC requires them to allow me access to their books and records. So I am being forced to share the facts through a news release.

    Rick Kopec and Ken Eber, two of the individuals who run the for-profit business called SAAC, have said that they don’t know why we didn’t renew their annual license. That’s not true. We’ve sent e-mails, made phone calls and mailed letters explaining our concerns for quite some time. Except for the message noted at, they went unanswered. For the past several years, I’ve repeatedly told them that I was unhappy with their disregard of the reporting requirements of their license agreement and the way they managed the club. And, for the past eight years, their business hasn’t kept the terms of its extremely favorable agreement with my licensing company, Carroll Shelby Licensing.

    Here are the primary reasons that we did not renew the license for this business:

    For many years, I loaned truckloads of memorabilia to the club and provided 1960s production records for the registry; Kopec and Eber promised that everything would be returned to me whenever I asked. In fact, that’s what Kopec admits to on page 11 of the last printed edition of the “Shelby American World Registry,” which was published in 1997. But they have refused to do so, and I’m told they have sold many of the items, like cancelled Shelby American checks, over the Internet and the like. This is not what anyone had in mind when I let them borrow my things, or my licensing company granted them a license.

    Under the terms of their licensing agreement with CSL, they were required to provide annual and quarterly sales reports, as well as certified statements of sales and a full audit. Also, if requested, they were to allow us ‘free and full access’ to their books, records and accounts. They have not done any of these things, even though I’ve personally asked them many times.

    They’ve never provided proof of the basic liability insurance required by the license agreement. This could expose me personally and all of my companies to enormous liability.

    They failed for nine years to even ask for, much less receive advance approvals from CSL of the thousands of products and product designs they’ve been selling under license, even though the license agreement clearly states that this failure is grounds for “immediate” termination.

    They didn’t even pay the $1 per year licensing fee for the past nine years.

    CSL not only has the right not to renew SAAC’s license (which was made for only one year at a time for a reason), but in light of their continued disregard for the license agreement requirements, my trademarks and other intellectual property rights are at great risk if I allow this to continue.

    Kopec and Eber say SAAC has 5,000 members who pay almost a quarter-million dollars in dues each year. Then there are advertising revenues, sponsorships and money made at the SAAC national convention. In return, from what I can tell, members receive just one mediocre publication and a couple of classified advertising newsletters.

    And where is the Registry that has been promised year after year? The last one was published 10 years ago. I have received many calls from people who have paid hundreds of dollars for a Registry; they have threatened lawsuits against me and my companies because they have not received their book. The basic information in the Registry about colors, how many cars were built, etc., should be regularly updated and available online for instant access by members.

    Kopec and Eber recently offered sponsorship of the club to a kit car maker. I have no issue with the individuals who buy kit cars and love the Shelby brand. But, would GM let Chrysler sponsor the Corvette Club? Would Harley Davidson ignore an attempt by Kawasaki to sponsor the Harley Owners Group?

    I tried for years to address changes that should be made, but my requests fell on deaf ears. Some of the correspondence concerning this matter can be found at So my licensing company and I asked Eber and Kopec to return the 1960s records and items they originally promised to give back to me, as well as those they have collected over the years using my name under license. And I told them that they can’t use my name or the name of my company anymore, and to dispose of their inventory as required by the license agreement.

    Now they want club members to give them hard-earned money to defend their business interests. Eber and Kopec are asking people to help sue me when they won’t even tell anyone, much less my licensing company, how much money the club has made over the years collecting member dues and selling ‘Shelby’ memorabilia and merchandise for a royalty fee of only $1.00. Are they fighting me because they’re really afraid for the Registry or do they fear giving us financials, which they’ve been required to do, but refused?

    Shelby enthusiasts, as well as SAAC club members and registrars deserve better. They should have a club that provides good value and benefits everyone who is involved. They deserve a club that leverages technology to share information and runs events that encourage people to enjoy their cars. They deserve to be treated with class and respect. To say that Team Shelby will negatively impact the value of Shelby cars is ridiculous.

    I’ve received probably 250 telephone calls from people asking me to check on whether a particular Cobra or Mustang they wanted to buy is authentic. The next thing I hear from them is that Ken Eber has bought it. Where I come from, when there’s that much smoke there’s usually some sort of fire!

    Also, I’ve been told many times by members that Ken Eber has said that he doesn’t need Carroll Shelby. Well, now he won’t have to bother with me and I won’t have to bother with him. And, it seems to me that they make enough money that they don’t need to go around poor-mouthing to the Club members to finance their legal defense fund against me. Shame on both of them! And, as far as Ken and Rick’s associate, Mr. Pardee, the Club members should ask him how much of my personal memorabilia is being stored in his garage that, by all rights, should come back to me. Even though the three of them have slandered me by making public statements that I am ‘evil,’ I’m still entitled to get my personal belongings back. Who can disagree with that?

    The bottom line is my legacy should be left in the hands of my family and real enthusiasts. I want to extend an offer to the local clubs to contact my office and arrange for a license to use the Shelby and Cobra name at the same base cost that we offered SAAC of $1. This will allow them to continue their great work.

    It’s my right to stop letting someone use my name and the name of my legacy company, Shelby American, when they won’t listen to me or keep the terms of the licensing agreement they signed many years ago. Team Shelby won’t be run that way. You have my word on it.”


    Good then. More power to Carroll Shelby on this ordeal.

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