- Lotus naming row
Team Lotus name to remain in F1
The High Court has ruled that Group Lotus and Team Lotus are both able to continue using the Lotus name in Formula One.
The two sides had been fighting over the right to use the historic name in Formula One, which currently features on both the Team Lotus cars and the Renaults as a sponsor. The verdict allows Group Lotus to continue to use the Lotus name on its own in F1, while also deciding that Team Lotus is the rightful owner of the Team Lotus name, and so can continue with its current name.
The judgement also cleared up disagreements over Group Lotus' early termination of a five-year naming licence with Team Lotus, deciding that Group Lotus was entitled to end the licence agreement. As a result it was decided that Team Lotus (then Lotus Racing) was in breach of licence by continuing as Lotus Racing, and Group Lotus has been awarded damages.
In essence, both sides are claiming victory, but neither is completely happy with the result. Team Lotus team principal Tony Fernandes said he was pleased that the team would be able to continue under the historic name, and put a positive spin on the licence termination. "We are all pleased that it has been clarified that we are the rightful owners of Team Lotus," Fernandes said. "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."
Group Lotus, on the other hand, was unhappy with the decision to allow the Lotus name to continue to be used by two different teams, and signalled its intention to appeal immediately.
"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," Sarah Price, Head of Legal, Group Lotus plc said. "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."