The confusing battle for use of the Lotus name in F1 reaches the High Court today. The Group Lotus car company has applied for a summary judgement against the rights of Team Lotus (who competed as Lotus Racing in the 2010 F1 season).
Today’s High Court action is separate to the case which revolves around the rights to use the historic Team Lotus name. David Hunt, brother of F1 champion James, acquired the Team Lotus name in 1994 when the team collapsed thanks to financial problems. Tony Fernandes, boss of Team Lotus, purchased then purchased these rights last year.
Today’s case surrounds Fernandes suing Group Lotus for breach of contract after it terminated a five-year contract with his 1Malaysia group allowing them to use the Lotus name in the sport.
In 2009, Group Lotus granted Fernandes the rights to use the Lotus name in F1 for his new team. However during 2009, Dany Bahar was appointed as the new chief executive officer for Group Lotus and last year it was decided that the company would be better represented in the sport if they sponsored a more established team. This has led to the company sponsoring Renault, who will be know as Lotus Renault for the 2011 Formula One season. It is being claimed that Fernandes breached the terms of their agreement. However Fernandes has dismissed these claims as ‘trivial.’
Fernandes has explained on his Twitter account, “Many confused about case today. It’s not about who owns Team Lotus name, which is in November. We brought that case to prove once and for all.
“Today’s case is Group [Lotus’s] desperate attempt to use their one-way unlawful termination of license agreement of Lotus Racing. Saying 1Malaysia can’t use Lotus. Part of post-termination clauses. So nothing changes on Team Lotus.”