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Lotus: And the winner is…?

By Mav | 27 May 2011 | 7 Comments | 1,669 views

The high court today gave its judgement in the dispute between Group Lotus and Team Lotus and left both sides declaring themselves the winner. That wasn’t a surprise and nor, really, was the decision. So who really won, or was it a score draw? Here’s a summary of the decision:

Group Lotus’ Victory
“Group Lotus win on key issues in Formula 1 naming dispute” – Group Lotus

1Malaysia Racing Team were ruled to be in breach of the licence granted to them by Group Lotus to race in F1 under the name Lotus Racing and damages were awarded to Group Lotus accordingly.

Group Lotus can use the name “Lotus” within Formula One, with the Team Lotus’ Ventures Ltd trademarks being revoked, an unsurprising decision since Lotus Racing itself provided precedent. They can also use the black and gold livery without infringing on Team Lotus’ historic links.

Team Lotus’ Victory
“We won. I’m over the moon. Team Lotus belongs to us. Our chassis name stays lotus.” – Tony Fernandes

Mr Justice Peter Smith also ruled that Team Lotus has the right to continue to race in Formula One under that name, although only Group Lotus can use the name “Lotus” on its own.

So who really won?

Significantly, despite claiming victory on the “key issues”, Group Lotus is seeking leave to appeal the use of the Team Lotus name “…so that the right to use the Lotus brand in Formula 1 is clarified once and for all in the interests of the sport and the fans.” This is a big blow to Dany Bahar and despite what Group Lotus claim, this was the big issue. The damages will be paid and forgot about soon enough but next year there will still be a Team Lotus on the grid and while they officially can’t call themselves “Lotus” on its own, that won’t prevent the fans from doing so.

Meanwhile, as long as Renault continue to supply engines for the Genii team the fans will refer to them as Renault as even if the team name becomes just Lotus, it’ll be Lotus-Renault. All-in-all a bargain piece of marketing for the French car manufacture with the engine supply deal liable to be unbreakable before 2013. Certainly, “the fans” need no clarification in their eyes.

Tellingly, Team Lotus’ online merchandise store opened within an hour of the judgement, underlining what the decision means to them.

However, with little changing as a result of the decision, maybe the only big winners are the lawyers…

Image: Charles Coates/LAT/Team Lotus

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7 Comments »

  • Kimster

    But at the same time it can’t stop someone calling Group Lotus “Lotus” and Team Lotus, Team Air Asia. As that is what they are. Especially if Group Lotus make a buy out. Makes no difference in reality.

    So by this judgement if I was to make a team called Force Lotus, it would be all legal? I would just be an opportunist like Fernandes.

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  • Karen

    … and the winner is?

    Well in F1 it’s Team Lotus, as they’ve won the exclusive right to call the F1 chassis a Lotus (Team Lotus), Renault F1 remain a Renault, albeit with the right to use the name Lotus while they’re sponsored by Lotus cars.

    I did find it funny Group Lotus announced victory, then that they’d appeal.

    Yogi Bahar does make me smile.

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  • Kimster

    Karen,

    They won certain elements of the case, and appealing the ones they lost. I guess this is the fairest decision.

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  • Mav (author)

    Group Lotus’ main victory is that they can use the Lotus name in F1 at all, or for that matter, GP2 etc.

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  • Karen

    Auto Motor und Sport are running a story that Renault F1 haven’t paid Renault for the engine supply, and if they don’t pay up Renault F1 will lose Renault engines for next year.

    It seems Renault F1 have asked Lotus Cars for a cash injection.

    Williams are waiting in the wings.

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  • Pat W

    I’d expect Group/Renault to go for a name change next year, they can’t keep entering themselves as Renault when that company is just an engine supplier now. The ruling suggests they can rename themselves as Lotus, which along with the engines makes Lotus – Renault.
    The other team should be called Team Lotus, making them Team Lotus – Renault.

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  • Mav (author)

    The ruling suggests they can rename themselves as Lotus, which along with the engines makes Lotus – Renault.

    not a big name change is it and I think we’ll still call them Renault. I wonder what their legals costs were? That could be a very expensive hypen.

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