Jarno Trulli, Lotus, Monaco, 2011

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

2011 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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Last year Lotus used the name ‘Lotus Racing’ under license from Group Lotus, until it was withdrawn.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

Browse all articles on the Lotus naming rights row

Image ?? Team Lotus

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

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  1. 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.”


    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.

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

      1. Sound_Of_Madness
        27th May 2011, 15:24

        And we finally agree. :)

        1. Done deal. :P

    2. 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!

      1. 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.

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

        Interesting read.

    3. 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.

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

      1. that should have gone below Keith linking to the Twitter message about the merchandise.

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

    1. 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.


  4. ‘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?

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


    1. 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.

      1. “Remain Malay”? When have Lotus ever been Malay?

        By that logic Renault are Luxembourgian.

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

          1. 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.

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

  7. 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.

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

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


    Reading anything about this case is extremely confusing…

  11. Haven’t slogged through the whole opinion yet, but seems uncommonly readable, a good summary of parts of F1 history, and has some good zingers. For example:

    Addressing Chapman’s view that Lotus cars should become more mainstream, every-day road cars:
    “The reference to women car drivers might not be quite so apposite in 2011 and is difficult to square with the Lotus Elan and Diana Rigg.” Major burn, your honor.

    In the end, this was just a ******* match between two big egos with money to spare. Sometimes, these commercial cases are simply a duels—in modern days, we use attorneys rather than “seconds.” Two business people operating in the same sphere want to score a win and to show their backers/investors that they are ready to use brass knuckles against a competitor, however pound-foolish a litigation may be versus settlement.

    Then again in this case, maybe an actual duel would have been better. In which case, if I were Fernandez, I would have selected Sutil as my second (too soon?).

  12. far too many lotus’…i’m way confused, good job I don’t really give a dam

    the green ones are pretty cool…why do the black ones not wanna be called renault any more? after all…the lotus brand is tainted with them dodgy proton people whilst the renault name just has to contend with being ”french n’ cheerful” (an evil yes, but far less of an evil surely)

  13. Hopefully this ruling will make both parties realise the best solution is a settlement where the team lotus name and a sizeable amount of money changes hands, leading to one lotus team and one caterham team. This will clear the confusion for the fans and allow both sides able to exit this mess with their heads held high.

  14. team lotus statement 2

    Team Lotus and Group Lotus plc – Clarification:

    Team Lotus is very pleased with the judgment in the dispute with Group Lotus and does not intend to appeal any of the key findings. As Group Lotus has already announced its intention to appeal the Judge’s decision on the headline argument in this case it is clear they do not feel they have won. There are a number of points that are interesting to note in the Judge’s findings which invalidate any claim of victory by Group Lotus in the main cause of this action:

    – The Judge ruled that Team Lotus owns the separate goodwill in the “Team Lotus” name and roundel and we cannot be prevented by Group Lotus from using either of them in relation to Formula 1 racing. This was their headline argument in this case and the primary objective of Group Lotus was to stop us racing under the Team Lotus name. On this point they have lost.

    – Until 1985 Group Lotus and Team Lotus had their own separate pools of goodwill in respect of the two separate businesses – the road car operation as one entity and the Formula 1 team as another. The claim by Group Lotus to have always owned the goodwill in Team Lotus failed.

    – Having clearly established that there were two separate pools of goodwill the judgement also establishes that the goodwill in the Team Lotus name and roundel has continued and still survives – it has not been eliminated by non-use. The claim by Group Lotus on that point has failed.

    – It has also been established that there is no confusing similarity between Team Lotus and Lotus. As there is independent goodwill in the mark Team Lotus it is not confusingly similar to Lotus. Group Lotus cannot stop Team Lotus racing under the name we own, so again, Group Lotus has failed in their main cause of action.

    – Although goodwill in the “Team Lotus” name and mark subsists, our trade marks for the Team Lotus name and roundel have been revoked for non use between 2003 and 2008. This however has no impact upon our ability to continue to use the “Team Lotus” trade marks, and indeed to re-register them.

    – The only point that Group Lotus won on, and could therefore claim any sort of victory, was the point that the Judge himself referred to in paragraph three of his judgment as “less important”. The Judge found in their favour that Team Lotus had breached the licence agreement by producing merchandising without pre-approval and that Group Lotus was therefore entitled to terminate. This has no bearing whatsoever on the key question as to whether Team Lotus is allowed to continue to race under the Team Lotus name.

  15. In my pictures’ folders, I still have separate ones:
    Lotus Racing (2010-)
    Team Lotus (1958-1994)
    Renault F1 (1977-)

    1. Where is Benetton in that? ;)

      1. don’t forget Pacific Team Lotus (1995)

  16. My ideal judgement would have been that no could use the Lotus name in any form again in F1 but that was never going to happen.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if their any some deals going on behind the scenes now so only one of them are called Lotus and it may result in Group Lotus paying Fernandes a large amount to buy the name and Fernandes using the Caterham name.

  17. I think my understanding of this judgment conflicts with the first line of this article: “Lotus have won the right to continue using the name ‘Team Lotus’ in F1.”

    My understanding is that they should no longer be referred to as Lotus, but Team Lotus. They have won in the sense that they can call themselves “Team Lotus”, but legally, when referring to Lotus, we are talking about “Group Lotus”.

    What a mess.

    1. No, that is not entirely the point. They are Team Lotus, but it is common and not deemed confusing if Media refer to them like that for reason of “economy”, i.e. faster commmenting or fitting it into the headline.

      And Group Lotus stays GL/Group Lotus, to avoid conflicting with its subsidiary, Lotus Cars. The Renault team is not Lotus but Renault with a Lotus sponsorship (bringing only the Lotus badge and Money, no further involvement).

  18. Shouldn’t the plural of Lotus be Loti ?

    1. Clive Jones always referred to the plural of Lotus as Lotii. :)

      1. The Renault should be called Lotii, part Lotus part Genii!!!

  19. 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.


    1. I read through the whole of it. Seems the judge thinks the same about that, its nice to see how he makes clear it would have been better to sit down and agree on something.

      And as for who is the “real” Lotus, he states that in effect these teams will have to go on track and show what they have got.

  20. Lotus the Bug wants to get in on this action…

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