Court rules Lotus have right to use name “Team Lotus”

2011 F1 season

Jarno Trulli, Lotus, Monaco, 2011

Jarno Trulli, Lotus, Monaco, 2011

Lotus have won the right to continue using the name ‘Team Lotus’ in F1.

Justice Peter Smith dismissed Group Lotus’s claim to the Team Lotus name and roundel design.

He also ruled that Lotus’s use of the name ‘Team Lotus’ does not infringe Group Lotus’s trademarks in the name Lotus.

Their use of the name had been contested by Group Lotus, who make Lotus road cars and sponsor the Renault F1 team.

Last year Lotus used the name ‘Lotus Racing’ under license from Group Lotus, until it was withdrawn. Lotus bought the rights to the name ‘Team Lotus’ from David Hunt, who had acquired them when the original team collapsed at the end of 1994.

Lotus team principal Tony Fernandes wrote on Twitter: “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”

Group Lotus said they would appeal the decision. However they described the verdict as a “win on key issues” in a statement.

Sarah Price, head of legal at Group Lotus, said: “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.”

The statement noted: “The judge also found that Team Lotus has the right to continue to race in Formula 1 under the name Team Lotus but the effect of the judgement is that only Group Lotus can use the name ??Lotus?? on its own in F1.

“Group Lotus is concerned that this aspect of the judgement will cause confusion in the eyes of spectators and the wider public. Accordingly, Group Lotus is seeking leave to appeal 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. Group Lotus and its shareholder Proton Holding Bhd are confident of success on appeal.”

Update: Here is the verdict in full.

Lotus naming rights row

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182 comments on Court rules Lotus have right to use name “Team Lotus”

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  1. AdrianMorse said on 27th May 2011, 14:32

    “The decision to appeal has not been taken lightly.” …It must have required at least half a minute of deliberation.

    • Victorinox said on 27th May 2011, 15:13

      It is interesting that Group Lotus is calling Fernandez’s outfit “Team Lotus” in their statement instead of 1Malaysia Racing… I think someone is about to give up :-)

      • Grace said on 27th May 2011, 16:23

        In the words of Brick Tamlin…

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCVHpnixj88

      • Douglas62500 said on 27th May 2011, 17:19

        Yeah I would guess that’s probably the case, as Group Lotus “did their best to destroy” Team Lotus .

      • Dipak T said on 27th May 2011, 18:06

        WEll thats a clear sign as any that the main focus at Group has shifted to the Le Mans program, theyve essentially been given exclusive rights to sports cars.

        Whats gonna become of Bahar? He came in saying that hed remould Lotus Cars into a Porsche rival, and the first thing he has achienved in to ensure that Group will never enter F1 as a constructor or engine manufacturer. Does the ban also prohibit them from supplying engines in all single seaters?

      • Dipak T said on 27th May 2011, 18:16

        Also, I find Group stating that they had won the right to the black and gold livery misleading. From the verdict, it seems the judges verdict was essentially ” meh, its a colour scheme, I cant really rulkethat either side can have it over the other, and is therefore not even worth ruling on.”

        • BasCB (@bascb) said on 30th May 2011, 9:40

          Yeah, bit of professional spinning the facts to show no defeat publicly. At the same time the simple fact they now refer to Team Lotus (instead of 1MY or whatever) is pretty significant, I think.

  2. From this point on Renault shall be known as Renault Renault Renault… just for good measure.

  3. well then, lets hope we can put this one to bed.

    • apeman (@apeman) said on 27th May 2011, 14:39

      No chance of that for a while yet! Lawyers love to draw these things out to extract every penny they can.

    • Cyclops_PL (@cyclops_pl) said on 27th May 2011, 14:40

      I’m confused, least to say.

      So GL can name a team Lotus, while Tony can retain the name Team Lotus?

      And what is that with TLC trademarks being revoked? Which trademarks exactly?

      Chaos continues…

  4. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 27th May 2011, 14:37

    So, Fernandes has the right to use the Team Lotus name – but Group Lotus is the only team that can use “Lotus” in its name?

    Sounds like half a verdict to me, because there’s no mention of who was wrong and who was right in the use and misuse of the Lotus name in 2010. Or am I reading it wrong?

    “We are the only Lotus.”

    Oh, the hide.

    • Agree. Although winners: lawyers who have been paid bucket loads when really everything will carry on the same. Losers: fans + F1 for having to put up with yet another confusing mess caused by warring egos.

      • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 28th May 2011, 8:46

        Something like that – I tend to think that judges will always try to leave things as undisturbed as possible in civil court; this isn’t really surprising therefore, although also not very helpful either. Lots of hot air and money wasted, as you say from ego’s inflating and posturing

      • Ben Curly said on 28th May 2011, 11:03

        Was that really confusing to anyone? Things stay as they were. People don’t have problems telling the two teams apart.

        The whole thing was a bit silly, sure, but confusing? I don’t think so.

    • sw6569 (@sw6569) said on 27th May 2011, 14:58

      there is a lot more to this story than the press mongers are letting on. I should have access to the judgement when it is available and i’ll be giving it a read through to establish whats gone on.

      The press releases stating that the use of ‘Lotus’ within F1 belongs to Group Lotus is the most troubling aspect of the judgement for me – as (obviously) Lotus is part of the name ‘Team Lotus’. I don’t see how the two aren’t misleading to each other – and therefore, infringing one or the others IP rights.

      Not until we have the judgement will we know the full details

      • Kenny said on 27th May 2011, 16:12

        It seems to mean that Group Lotus have the rights to the name “Lotus” (on its own), while Fernandes has the rights to the name “Team Lotus”.

        • S.J.M (@sjm) said on 27th May 2011, 16:42

          ive interpreted it that [Group] Lotus can still use the name Lotus in F1 for things like Sponsorship (like on the Renault), which seems fair as they are the car company Lotus afterall. Whether this is a door to allow them to use ‘Lotus’ as a team name should be clarified with the judgement.

          I wonder if by awarding Fernades outfit the sole right to ‘Team Lotus’ and the badge, if the door is now shut on Group Lotus from ever being a constructor/team owner in F1 under the Lotus brand.

        • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 27th May 2011, 17:12

          Justice Peter Smith dismissed Group Lotus’s claim to the Team Lotus name and roundel design.

          So will Renault have to scrub the roundel logos from their cars and team kit?

          • S.J.M (@sjm) said on 27th May 2011, 18:16

            No, I think that it means that GL cant stop Team Lotus from using the design. Both can use it, one having “Team Lotus” on ofc, and the other just “Lotus”

          • Mike (@mike) said on 27th May 2011, 23:47

            Apparently so, Brilliant!

    • DannyS said on 27th May 2011, 15:11

      Team Lotus has already set up an eshop for merchandise so we can assume that they are allowed to keep the merchandising rights

      http://shop.teamlotus.co.uk/

      • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 27th May 2011, 16:56

        It’s not like that at all. The dispute over marketing began over the use of the Lotus name provided by Group Lotus in 2010. Now that the two are separate, that’s not an issue anymore. Fernandes has the marketing rights to the Team Lotus name because he’s had them ever since he purchased the name from David Hunt.

        • Gold Leaf said on 27th May 2011, 17:17

          I thought you’d be keeping a lower profile today.

          Six months of reheated Bahar talking-points that you’ve been incessantly carpet bombing into any available forum or comment thread, and now the judgement comes back exactly as everyone else expected.

          Fernandes has the marketing rights to the Team Lotus name because he’s had them ever since he purchased the name from David Hunt.

          If only you’d have believed us when we tried to tell you that last winter, you could have saved yourself an awful lot of wasted keystrokes.

          • Funkyf1 said on 27th May 2011, 23:34

            PM is not wasting keystrokes, as a teacher he believes he is educating us…. Poor Teachers always think they’re right.

    • GeeMac (@geemac) said on 27th May 2011, 17:12

      I’ve read my fair share of judgments in my career, and my interpretation is that Fernandes can call his team “Team Lotus”, but not “Lotus”, and Proton can call a car “Lotus” only and not any other name with the word “Lotus” in it.

      Still, I think the only people who really care about the issue anymore are Tony Fernandes and Dany Bahar…

      • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 27th May 2011, 17:15

        Proton can call a car “Lotus” only and not any other name with the word “Lotus” in it.

        For example Lotus Renault GP?

        • GeeMac (@geemac) said on 27th May 2011, 18:57

          Exactly.

          Or they could enter a team called “Lotus” next season and Fernandes could enter a team called “Team Lotus”…which is complete madness.

          • BasCB (@bascb) said on 30th May 2011, 9:44

            But if they (GL) want to do that, and not lose all the Renault prize money, they would need all other teams to agree on that move. Very unlikely.

    • Fixy (@fixy) said on 27th May 2011, 17:21

      The only thing that can happen is if both remain as they are. Nothing else can be done by either that wouldn’t cause the other to go to court.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 30th May 2011, 9:42

      Seems to me the judge clearly states it would have been advisable to solve everything by mutual consent, and still forces them to sit down if they want the matters solved.

      Nice to see him saying this is not really something the courts can judge as its about racing, emotions, and heritage.

  5. BarnstableD (@barnstabled) said on 27th May 2011, 14:37

    …so Lotus Renault are still Lotus Renault and Team Lotus are still Team Lotus? Dammit..

    • Todfod (@todfod) said on 27th May 2011, 15:16

      Hahahah. I thought the exact same thing. Basically.. nothing changed. What a waste of time and effort by Danny Bahar and Tony Fernandes. Though being successful CEOs would have given those two a little more grey matter

  6. Cacarella said on 27th May 2011, 14:37

    So I guess I was right after all…

    Nothing changes.

  7. Dipak T said on 27th May 2011, 14:39

    So they can still sponsor Renault and have Lotus written on the car, but what happens to the ACBC logo? Are they going to have to remove that from the Renault paraphanalia?

  8. J Tavora said on 27th May 2011, 14:42

    Que?
    I’m more confused now than before. Can anyone please read the two excerpts below and explain? Thanks!

    ‘Team Lotus belongs to us. Our chassis name stays Lotus. No one can use the chassis name. We are the only Lotus.’

    ‘Team Lotus has the right to continue to race in Formula 1 under the name Team Lotus but the effect of the judgement is that only Group Lotus can use the name “Lotus” on its own in F1′

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 27th May 2011, 14:46

      It means that although Tony Fernandes owns the rights to the Team Lotus name, that does not guarantee he can use it. Under the law, owning a name and using it are two entirely different things.

      • Bäremans said on 27th May 2011, 15:25

        Doesn’t it mean something stupid like: Tony always had to add “Team” when he refers to his team. So he cannot speak of “Lotus”, he can only speak of “Team Lotus”.

        Whereas the people who are in business with Renault, can use “Lotus” whenever they want.

        Or am I wrong?

        • HounslowBusGarage (@hounslowbusgarage) said on 27th May 2011, 15:34

          As far as I can see, yes.
          The important bit is the “on its own”.
          Team Lotus (Fernandez) can carry on calling themselves ‘Team Lotus’, but Group Lotus are allowed to call themselves ‘Lotus’ on its own.

          • unnoooc said on 27th May 2011, 17:15

            And Baher can’t call his deal ‘the guys at team Lotus Renault GP’.. but can call it Lotus Renault GP (i.e. no ‘team’)

            TF can call his lot Team Lotus but not Lotus for short.

          • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 27th May 2011, 17:18

            But then how does that work with the chassis name? It’s just plain Lotus.

          • Fixy (@fixy) said on 27th May 2011, 17:28

            That’s how I see it too, but it’s confusing. Scuderia Ferrari can call themselves Ferrari and/or Scuderia Ferrari, so Team Lotus should be able to call themselves Lotus and/or Team Lotus.

          • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 28th May 2011, 1:28

            Yeah, the ruling should’ve addressed that specifically. The fact that there are still so many unanswered questions really makes the judge seem a bit incompetent in the matter.

  9. Cyclops_PL (@cyclops_pl) said on 27th May 2011, 14:43

    This is madness!

  10. ankitpardeshi (@ankitpardeshi) said on 27th May 2011, 14:43

    the outcome is meaningless

  11. So they’re still both Lotus? I think the judge just lost interest like most fans then.

    Fernandes: “We are the only Lotus. Team Lotus”

    Then a few lines later…

    “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.

    Great clarity. They’re just bickering kids really, aren’t they?

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 27th May 2011, 14:55

      It’s becoming apparent that only half the issue has been resolved. There were two parts to this case: 1) settling the rightful owner of the Team Lotus name, and 2) deciding who was right in the breach of contract. It would appear that only the first issue has been resolved.

      Alternatively, both issues have been resolved, with the judge ruling in favour of Fernandes on the first and Group Lotus on the second. Group Lotus feel the obvious implication of this is that there should only be one team allowed to race under the Lotus name.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 30th May 2011, 10:06

        No, the judge ruled on that matter of rightfull termination and being in breach of contract (calling it a minor thing). Fernandes was in breach with his clothing (apparently not even trying to adhere to the licence contract in this matter. On purpose?) and has to pay damages, for what its worth.

        But as Steph writes, the judge has told them mainly they should have sat down and agree on something to be sensible.
        Now its Team Lotus in F1 and Group Lotus having its Lotus brand of cars, both have a right to exist. And fight it out on track (nice one from the judge there)!

    • Bigbadderboom said on 27th May 2011, 15:00

      Well done Tony and Team Lotus. But I agree with Steph, lost interest now, it’s just boring.
      Reminds me of the Little Britain sketch with Vicky Pollard………….. Whatever!!!!!!

    • Fixy (@fixy) said on 27th May 2011, 17:29

      There are really only two people that care… Bahar and Fernandes.

  12. Tim said on 27th May 2011, 14:47

    So in other words Team Lotus can still call themselves “Team Lotus” but are in breach of the licencing agreement with Group Lotus and Fernandes has to pay damages.

    Meanwhile Group Lotus can field a team called “Lotus”, use the Lotus logo in the black and gold livery and is appealing to overturn Fernandes’ right to use “Team Lotus”.

    So we’re effectively back where we started, no one has won except the lawyers.

  13. Damon (@damon) said on 27th May 2011, 14:51

    I’m waiting for a Team Ferrari to emerge. With yellow cars and the horses in the logos turned the other way.

    • DuncF1 said on 27th May 2011, 14:55

      Haha. Perhaps created by the estate of deceased glamour girl, Lola Ferrari?

      I bet the car would have massive side-pods :)

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 27th May 2011, 14:57

      Oh, they exist. They call themselves “Lamborghini” and have the horse angled down instead of up. Also, it’s not a horse, but a bull. Nevertheless, they are Italian and they make cars, which is enough for Ferrari.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 30th May 2011, 10:23

        Well, by now I would argue on the being italian, as their engines are developed in Ingolstadt, the gearboxes probably in Wolfsburg, lot of the chassis mechanics in Germany as well and part of the electronics with a large portion of work in Mlada Boleslav, Czech Republic.
        And isn’t their head of design currently a Dutchman who previously worked at Audi (could be wrong there)?

        Nice one though PM about the logo etc. LOL

    • SouthAussie94 (@mpj1994) said on 27th May 2011, 14:59

      Just out of curiosity, suppose a team came along and decided to call themselves Ferarri, would the Scuderia have a case?

      • David-A (@david-a) said on 27th May 2011, 15:38

        Presumably that wouldn’t be allowed, since the only Ferrari is the company that competes in motorsport and makes road cars. Lotus was always separated so the race team and road car company were different entities. Team Lotus is an attempt to carry on the racing team, Lotus Renault are the road car company sponsoring an F1 team.

        • andrewf1 said on 27th May 2011, 15:52

          No, i think MPJ meant the team calling itself FERARRI – as in, spelled like that. I don’t think it would be allowed though :)

          • SouthAussie94 (@mpj1994) said on 27th May 2011, 16:20

            Thats what I ment. A team calling itself FeraRRi..

            How about MacLaren.. :P

          • andrewf1 said on 27th May 2011, 16:30

            On the other hand, i’ve seen some clothes brands calling themselves Adibas, Spuma or Mike :P dunno if they survived though

          • Damon (@damon) said on 27th May 2011, 17:25

            andrewf1
            Exactly! Adidos, Nice, Reebak and the likes avoid copyright problems, so it’s safe to assume Ferarri would be ok as well.

        • Mark Hitchcock said on 27th May 2011, 16:00

          Also, even if for some reason a team were legally allowed to enter with a name very similar to Ferrari’s, I don’t think the FIA would allow them to race.
          And that’s the biggest thing for me about this whole ridiculous affair. Why didn’t the FIA step in when Lotus Renault submitted their entry?

          As the court verdict says:

          The major issue therefore is whether or not 2 sets of Lotus cars can legitimately race in F1 under a name incorporating Lotus in some way and use the Lotus Roundel. The organisers of F1 do not apparently regard it as a problem.

          Fair enough, Group Lotus didn’t want their trademarks being used in Team Lotus merchandise. But the whole thing about having two Lotus teams in F1 could easily have been sorted out by the FIA telling one of them to change the name.

          • Xanathos said on 27th May 2011, 16:45

            Since the constructor is still called Renault, the FIA apparently thought that it wouldn’t be a problem and that they could be sponsored by whoever they want to.
            The problem are the media who keep talking about a “Lotus Renault” team which is different from the “Lotus-Renault” listed in the on-screen graphics by FOM. That is where the real Problem starts. They should at least be consistent and say “Vodafone McLaren Mercedes” or “Mercedes Petronas” everytime they mention those teams

          • Fixy (@fixy) said on 27th May 2011, 17:34

            @Xanathos – The “Lotus” part in “Lotus Renault” should be dropped, as it is with every other team.

          • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 27th May 2011, 17:39

            I agree. It’s strange that much of the F1 media keeps referring to them as Lotus Renault, when no one refers to Vodafone McLaren Mercedes or Petronas Mercedes but the teams themselves. Heck, no one even refers to John Booth’s team a Marussia Virgin Racing, and that’s actually part of their constructor’s name. Calling the Renault team Lotus just because they’re a sponsor is just silly.

        • Fixy (@fixy) said on 27th May 2011, 17:33

          @Andrewf1, Damon – That’s contraffaction and an usage of trademarks that can be confused with the original ones, so they aren’t allowed.

      • W-K said on 27th May 2011, 18:57

        Scuderia means stable in Italian.

        Don’t forget it is also Scuderia Torro Rosso.

    • codesurge (@codesurge) said on 27th May 2011, 17:55

      There’s also AF Corse in the Le Mans Series, where AF are the initials of team founder Amato Ferrari. :)

      Of course, they race Ferraris…

  14. Pika said on 27th May 2011, 14:57

    So casual fans will still be confused with all this pathetic ****.

    FOTA or FOM or ANYONE except this stupid court must do something to prevent 2 different teams using the same name.

    THIS IS FORMULA 1.

    • Cacarella said on 27th May 2011, 15:19

      Go Rough Riders!!!!!

      (You’d probably have to be Canadian to understand that)

      • Captain Soviet (@captain-soviet) said on 27th May 2011, 16:00

        We now return you to exciting 15th round action at the Canadian Football League draft! So, the Saskatchewan Rough Riders, who scored only four rouges all last season….

        (For the uninitiated, the CFL has featured two teams called the Rough Riders – one from Ottawa and one from Saskatchewan, who played at the same time for decades. The Ottawa team is older, but is currently defunct.)

        • Captain Soviet (@captain-soviet) said on 27th May 2011, 16:03

          Worse yet, there was an attempt to resurrect the Ottawa team, but someone had bought the rights to the name and expected payments, and the team ended up being called the Renegades instead. They went bust, and now the naming issue has been sorted out in Ottawa, but the new owners of the team from 2013 onwards need the permission of the Saskatchewan team to use the name.

          The CFL has been there and done that.

          (Sorry about the double post)

        • GeeMac (@geemac) said on 27th May 2011, 17:16

          You mean that wasn’t just a South Park joke?!?

          • Snow Donkey said on 27th May 2011, 18:22

            No it’s for real. There are only 8 teams in the league and 2 of them share a name. But it’s ok because we’re canadian eh? Actually it’s a great parallel for this ridiculousness.

          • Cacarella said on 27th May 2011, 20:54

            Snow Donkey?

            I love it!!!

            Actually there’s a difference.
            Saskatchewan is the Roughriders while Ottawa are the Rough Riders.

            We can tell them apart because one team is green while the other is black. Hey wait,
            Maybe that’s what we could use to differentiate between the two Loti?

    • Fixy (@fixy) said on 27th May 2011, 17:36

      But the fact is Lotus (Cars) is not in F1, it’s just a sponsor of Renault and should remain such. It’s in the official entry list, but I see nowhere such a constant use of the sponsor in the team name.

  15. DuncF1 said on 27th May 2011, 14:57

    I would imagine that Group Lotus aren’t too happy about Team Lotus keeping the chassis name. It effectively bars them from creating their own race team in the future rather than just being a principal sponsor of Renault.

    • Cyclops_PL (@cyclops_pl) said on 27th May 2011, 15:03

      Actually if what GL said is true, (the “only GL is entitled to use ‘Lotus’ on its own in F1″ part)then the chassis name is very much at stake. And they CAN rename Renault to “Lotus”.

    • Could anything stop them naming their chassis “Lotus F1″ or “Group Lotus” and calling the team Lotus though? As far as I can tell, Fernandes has the right to the chassis name “Lotus” and team name “Team Lotus”, so I’m sure GL could find their way around that easily enough.

      • Burnout (@burnout) said on 27th May 2011, 15:56

        I think the FOM has a rule that any team that has “F1″ in its name must also have the word “team” somewhere in it. That’s why so many teams have “GP” where it used to say “F1″

        If Group Lotus did that, they’d have to be “Team Lotus F1″ or “Team Group Lotus F1″ or something like that, which is too close to “Team Lotus” and would be struck down immediately.

        • Fixy (@fixy) said on 27th May 2011, 17:42

          Or Lotus F1 Team.

        • codesurge (@codesurge) said on 27th May 2011, 20:19

          Is it a recent rule? I recall Super Aguri (Super Aguri F1) and Midland (Midland F1 Racing) doing without “team” in their full names.

          • The Last Pope said on 28th May 2011, 3:00

            And Renault F1 from last year. I’m pretty sure there is no rule of this kind. I think there is a rule though that the car chassis names can’t have generic words like F1,GP,Team,Group,racing. So with Team Lotus having the rights to the Lotus named chassis, and Group Lotus only being able to use the word Lotus on its own, Group Lotus’ cars can never be Lotus in the FIA enterance. They would have to name their cars after a sponsor or something, like John Player Team Lotus did in the 70′s with their John Player Specials

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