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Last year Lotus used the name ‘Lotus Racing’ under license from Group Lotus, until it was withdrawn.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”

  1. Sound_Of_Madness said on 27th May 2011, 15:07

    Yes Tony. You are Team Lotus.

    So?

    • GuerraF1 said on 27th May 2011, 15:13

      It mean a lot like for example….if you were born in Russia would u liketo be called French?

      • Sound_Of_Madness said on 27th May 2011, 15:15

        I would have no problem with it. A name means nothing. Eg I do not care a bit about the Macedonia/FYROM saga that goes on in Greece…

        • GuerraF1 said on 27th May 2011, 15:17

          Im sure the Macedonias do… What im saying is the “branding” i.e what the product is called makes the difference between a mclaren ad a ferrari.

          • Sound_Of_Madness said on 27th May 2011, 15:20

            Mainly for commercial reasons? Tbh, I would be more sympathetic towards TF if he didn’t whine about “I am the real Lotus and nobody else is because I bought earned the right to use the name first” and was a Team AirAsia than that. I do not know how it would work on the average consumer fan though.

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

        Besides, what gives an enterpreneur like TF to use the Team Lotus name, while not to, similarly, Dany Bahar?

        • GuerraF1 said on 27th May 2011, 15:19

          Because a Judge says so. Now Lotus can, under Tony, become what they were…. a racing team.

          • Sound_Of_Madness said on 27th May 2011, 15:21

            Based on? That’s my point…

          • GuerraF1 said on 27th May 2011, 15:29

            Obviously Tony has the right to continue what he is doing. The Judge has confirmed this, wheter its good or bad, thats not the point. What it has been based on is facts (id like to presume,however being thru the legal system myself, i know how most things are grey). Its too late to cry over spilt milk.

            I mean what right does a fench manufacturer have on naming their team from a “group” that IS ESSENTIALLY Malaysian.

            Finally, *** is wrong with branding Renault , Renault. They won the champ 5 years ago, twice, They should be proud of that and continue living up the renault name. I don’t know the ins and outs of how F1 business runs but if ur winning ( in anything ) stick to it. Id be proud to be apart of either “Team Lotus” or Renault.

        • Dipak T said on 27th May 2011, 15:48

          Tony bought the rights to Team Lotus, an entity which was always separate from Group Lotus, and until the arrival of Bahar, was recegonised as separate from Group themselves. The contract between Group and Fernandes even explicitly stated not to make any refencence to Team Lotus since Group did not own the rights too.

          An unholy mess from the start then.

        • BasCB (@bascb) said on 31st May 2011, 6:32

          Because Bahar did not agree on purchasing the old team remains from David Hunt and did not do so. Simple as that.

  2. King Six said on 27th May 2011, 15:09

    It pretty much scuppers Group Lotus’s plan to eventually rename Renault properly into Lotus. I think. So everyone will still call Renault as Renault and nothing else. And everyone will still call Team Lotus as Lotus and nothing else. So nothing changes.

  3. GuerraF1 said on 27th May 2011, 15:12

    As it should be, who were renault trying to kid…

  4. Fixy (@fixy) said on 27th May 2011, 15:12

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

    I didn’t know which Lotus was the one referred to in the title, but then I remembered you use Lotus for Team Lotus and Renault for Lotus Renault. Happy with the decision.

  5. Bernard said on 27th May 2011, 15:18

    There is nothing confusing about two companies having separate intellectual property and the rights to use it as they wish.

    The key thing to take from this case is that Team Lotus is recognised by law as being a distinct operation from Group Lotus and always has been.

    Team Lotus can use the Team Lotus IP.
    Group Lotus can use the Group Lotus IP.

    The result was a foregone conclusion back when the case was brought to light, in short Group Lotus tried to take IP that was owned by Team Lotus and thankfully failed.

    Regarding F1, Group Lotus can enter as Lotus and Team Lotus can enter as Team Lotus. Who is accepted though is as always a matter for the FIA.

    • Bernard said on 27th May 2011, 16:25

      Further to this it appears Group Lotus cannot use the name ‘Lotus’ in F1 (or any other single seaters) hence the appeal.

      [GLCC may not] own or run or be associated with another motor racing team running ‘A’ Class Racing vehicles which may have in its title and use the name “Lotus”.

      ‘A’ Class means any single seater car.

      It would seem that Group Lotus’ bully-boy tactics have backfired and they are now worse off than before.

      • Journeyer (@journeyer) said on 27th May 2011, 18:08

        It looks like that came from the 1985 Agreement, which has now expired.

        • Bernard said on 27th May 2011, 22:21

          I think you’re correct Journeyer, disregard the above.

          The complexity is in having the judgement take into account the understanding between the parties in the agreement, and that neither has actually seeked to terminate the agreement since it was created. Even with the understanding that after termination of the agreement, certain clauses have remained inplace and unchallenged.

          Given the ownership changes and apparent disregard for the continued authority of the agreement the judgement appears to be well considered and fitting of the circumstances.

          • BasCB (@bascb) said on 31st May 2011, 6:36

            Journeyer is right. The judge cleared that question.
            Both Group Lotus and Team Lotus can do their separate business activities (Manufacturing and selling sports cars, and manufacturing and racing cars respectively) under their own banner.

  6. King Six said on 27th May 2011, 15:19

    Keith, I think you’re actually now going wrong by referring to Team Lotus as merely Lotus. You can’t do that. Well you can, but it’s technically wrong.

    “In a statement issued by the car company it said: “Team Lotus has the right to continue to race in Formula 1 under the name Team Lotus but the effect of the Judgment is that only Group Lotus can use the name “Lotus” on its own in F1.”

    http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/91773

    Team Lotus must be called Team Lotus. Not Lotus. Not Lotus Racing. Not Chapman’s Underwear. But Team Lotus. Calling Team Lotus as Lotus, is wrong. Renault are still Renault.

    • GuerraF1 said on 27th May 2011, 15:21

      Well bring someone new into it then… Scrap the whole lLotus thing and bring some originality…. Caterham F1 sounds fantastic.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 27th May 2011, 15:33

      Not sure why you feel the need to cite a link for a quote which is already in the article.

      For obvious reasons I’m not going to only listen to Group Lotus’s point of view before making my mind up. I’ve only just received a copy of the full verdict and it’s quite a read!

      • King Six said on 27th May 2011, 15:51

        I read both, but I only remembered it from the Autosport one just now. So I played it safe…

        Fair point, but then nobody seems to have qualms about lapping up whatever Fernandes says.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 31st May 2011, 6:39

        I read it yesterday evening. The judge has quite a few nice quotes in there.

        Interesting read.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 31st May 2011, 6:37

      The media can use a shorter name, if it fits better into the headline or makes for easier/faster commenting.

      This is not about legal questions.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 31st May 2011, 7:24

      Good on them. I hope they did improve the quality of the merchandise from what they showed to GL representatives at that meeting ;-)

  7. smifaye (@smifaye) said on 27th May 2011, 15:24

    There was I thinking this whole thing was over! But its still not if they are going to appeal.

    How can they feel strongly about it being reversed if they have just lost?

    Give up Group Lotus, everyone calls you Renault!

  8. MinusTwo said on 27th May 2011, 15:26

    I think I am going to start referring to one of those teams as “Team Lotus” and the other one as “The Lotus Team”… that oughtta clear it up.

    The messed up thing is that I dont really see how this could possibly be resolved unless you make one of those teams stop using the word “Lotus” altogether. Doesn’t seem like Lotus cars would be too interested in sponsoring a team if they cant use their name, and Team Lotus rightfully owns the deed to the “Team Lotus” name. This verdict just perpetuates the insanity of having two teams named basically the same thing.

    Wait – I’ve got it. We need to combine the teams. And genetically combine the four race drivers into two: One driver will be named Heikki Kovapetrov. The other – Jarnick Trufeld.

    • Bäremans said on 27th May 2011, 15:30

      Do you speak of teams like “Vodaphone Mclaren”, Marlboro Ferrari, “Petronas Mercedes” or “Telmex Sauber”?

      I don’t.

      So the greens are Lotus, the blacks Renault.

      Easy.

  9. Chas said on 27th May 2011, 15:28

    ‘Caterham Team Lotus’ is implied in the TL press release as a possible marque. Is this much different from the century-long cohabitation of Daimler-Mercedes and Jaguar Daimler (for limos and the Dart) which people sort of got used to?

  10. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 27th May 2011, 15:35

    Added a link to the full verdict to the article. I notice Lotus are already selling Team Lotus merchandise:

    http://twitter.com/MyTeamLotus/statuses/74113890048409603

    • GuerraF1 said on 27th May 2011, 15:39

      Word up. So they should. and profit of course. What we can learn from this is that Renault being french shouls remain as Renault, and Lotus shall remain Malay.

      • “Remain Malay”? When have Lotus ever been Malay?

        By that logic Renault are Luxembourgian.

        • codesurge (@codesurge) said on 27th May 2011, 19:24

          Actually, the Renault F1 team currently races under the British flag while Team Lotus races under the Malaysian flag.

          • I know that, I was talking about the historical Lotus. That’s part of the reason I can’t support Fernandes; his ridiculous charade of racing a team called Team Lotus under a Malaysian flag. The real TL had union jacks all over their cars, for heaven’s sake.

  11. DuncF1 said on 27th May 2011, 15:45

    Surely ‘Group’ Lotus infers more than one, so technically, GL should really call themselves Loti :)

  12. Klon (@klon) said on 27th May 2011, 15:46

    Since people here think I am evil either way, I might as well have my smug satisfaction: I told you so. No, seriously, this is 100 % the outcome I have always predicted.

    That case has always been very obvious if you have some basic knowledge in copyright law. This appeal won’t do jack and is only a move for not having to accept defeat yet.

  13. geo132 (@geo132) said on 27th May 2011, 15:46

    To sum it up: both teams were fighting for different things.

  14. GuerraF1 said on 27th May 2011, 15:47

    Way off topic, but as Lotus is now asian, id love to see one of the Japaenese manufacturers have another go at entertaining me.

  15. Autopulated (@autopulated) said on 27th May 2011, 16:15

    ARGH SO MANY LOTUS’S!!

    Reading anything about this case is extremely confusing…

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