Lotus wins Lotus vs Lotus court case
Both Tony Fernandes and Group Lotus are claiming victory after a decision on Formula One’s most confusing naming row was revealed this evening.
Mr Justice Peter Smith handed down his judgment on Group Lotus PLC & anr v 1Malaysia Racing Team SDN BHD & ors Pt Hd – or, in Formula One team terms, Group Lotus vs. Team Lotus. The decision: it’s a draw. For the time being.
In a press statement released by Group Lotus, it was revealed that the judge found in favour of Group Lotus’ major arguments – in particular that Tony Fernandes had indeed breached his contract with Group Lotus which allowed him to race under the name ‘Lotus Racing’ in 2010.
That contract was terminated at the end of the 2010 season, at which point Fernandes bought the naming rights for the historic brand ‘Team Lotus’ from David Hunt, allowing him to continue using the Lotus moniker in some respect.
However, it was also ruled that both teams would be allowed to continue using their respective Lotus titles, though Team Lotus can no longer be referred to simply as ‘Lotus’.
‘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,’ said Sarah Price, head of Group Lotus’ legal department.
Fernandes, meanwhile, said on Twitter that ‘We won. I’m over the moon. Team Lotus belongs to us. Our chassis name stays Lotus. No one can use the chassis name. We are the only Lotus. Team Lotus.’
Moreover, Team Lotus released in their own press statement that they were ‘very happy that the court case concerning the rights to the Team Lotus name has today come to a positive conclusion.’
‘The decision confirms that Team Lotus is the true owner of the full Team Lotus name and the iconic roundel, establishing in law that the Anglo-Malaysian team is the rightful heir to Team Lotus and all associated goodwill.’
Group Lotus has since served a notice of appeal in an attempt to wrest total control of the Lotus brand from Tony Fernandes, believing the ruling allowing to Lotus names on the grid will cause ‘confusion in the eyes of spectators and the wider public’
‘The on-going dispute with Team Lotus and associated companies has been a cause for concern for all at Group Lotus,’ continued Price.
‘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.’
You can read Group Lotus’ full press statement here.
You can read Team Lotus’ full press statement here.