Both Team Lotus and Group Lotus declared themselves pleased with the long awaited ruling on their legal fight over who has the rights to use the ‘Lotus’ name in Formula 1. As the verdict it stands this evening there will be no changes in the name of either team.
The judge, Mr. Justice Peter Smith, ruled that Team Lotus, the Norfolk-based Anglo-Asian outfit run by Tony Fernandes, can continue to compete under that name. However, they were found to be under breach of their licence agreement with Group Lotus, who are owned by Malaysian car company Proton, and forced to pay undisclosed damages.
Group Lotus, who are title sponsors of the Renault Formula 1 team, were acknowledged to have the right to use the name ‘Lotus’ within the sport, and they are also entitled to race in the historic black and gold livery that currently adorns their cars.
However, Group Lotus is concerned that Team Lotus being allowed to continue operating under this name will cause confusion amongst spectators and the public, and is seeking to appeal this aspect of the judgement.
Sarah Price, the Head of Legal at Group Lotus plc, said this of the judgement:
“Group Lotus is pleased that its right to race under the Lotus name in F1 has been upheld and that the Defendants' attempts to stop that have failed.
“The on-going dispute with Team Lotus and associated companies has been a cause for concern for all at Group Lotus. Despite the detailed judgment there are issues which still require clarification and we remain committed to obtaining this much needed clarity for the many fans of the Lotus marque – we are extremely grateful for their continued support. The decision to appeal has not been taken lightly.”
Team Lotus declared themselves ‘very happy’ with the judgement allowing them to continue to use the historic name. Team Principal Tony Fernandes entered the sport at the beginning of last season under an agreement with Group Lotus to use the name ‘Lotus’. Group Lotus then decided that they wished to enter the sport themselves, at which point Fernandes also purchased the rights to the name ‘Team Lotus’, the one raced under in the era of Colin Chapman.
“We are all pleased that it has been clarified that we are the rightful owners of Team Lotus,” said Fernandes. “We have always been confident that the factual evidence we presented would lead to this decision and today’s judgment confirms that belief. We are of course disappointed about the decision that Group Lotus was entitled to end the our licence agreement in 2010.
“We entered into that contract on the basis that we were beginning a long-term partnership with Group Lotus but unfortunately they then used technical breaches of the merchandising pre-notification process to bring the licence and our partnership to an end. However, my fellow shareholders and I are firm believers that when one door closes another door opens.
“In the early days of our agreement we realised its termination was inevitable and as events have unfolded the end of the licence has proved positive for us, with many new avenues being opened up as a result.”