Lotus: And the winner is…?
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