Proton threaten legal battle over ‘Team Lotus’ name

Proton, the car company which owns Group Lotus, has said that it considers the use of the name ‘Team Lotus’ a breach of its rights.

Last week Lotus Racing’s Tony Fernandes suggested that the historic name would re-enter the sport on his cars in 2011, as he had bought it from James Hunt’s brother David, who owns a separate company by the name of Team Lotus Ventures Ltd.

But Proton insisted today that they alone own the rights to the name and hinted they could take legal action if it were used.

The Proton statement said: “Last year, Tony Fernandes and 1 Malaysia Racing Team recognised this by taking a licence from Group Lotus to use the “Lotus” brand for the “Lotus Racing” team in the current Formula 1 season.

“With Proton’s agreement, Group Lotus has now terminated its licence to 1 Malaysia Racing Team to use the “Lotus Racing” brand in the 2011 and future Formula 1 seasons as a result of the flagrant and persistent breaches of the licence by 1 Malaysia Racing Team, which were damaging to the “Lotus” brand.

“Following that termination, neither 1 Malaysia Racing Team, nor any other company associated with Mr. Fernandes such as Tune Group Sdn Bhd or Team Lotus Ventures Limited, has the authority of Group Lotus to use any “Lotus” brand in the 2011 Formula 1 season. This includes the use of the brand “Team Lotus”.

“Group Lotus understands that Mr. Fernandes intends to rebrand the current “Lotus Racing” Formula 1 team to “Team Lotus” for the 2011 Formula 1 season. Mr. Fernandes indicates that Tune Group has acquired the rights to the name “Team Lotus” from a business formerly owned by David Hunt called Team Lotus Ventures Limited.

“Group Lotus believes these rights to have no proper legal foundation, a fact of which Mr. Fernandes was well aware when his company purchased them.

“PROTON will support Group Lotus in taking all necessary steps to protect its rights in the “Lotus” name, including resisting any attempts by Mr. Fernandes or his companies, or any other unauthorised person, to use the “Lotus” name in the 2011 Formula 1 season.”