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Lotus row 'a score draw', claim legal experts

Legal experts Collyer Bristow insist that there were no winners in the battle between Group Lotus and Team Lotus, despite both sides claiming to have been victorious in court.
The outcome of the row between Group Lotus and Team Lotus has been declared a 'score draw' by independent legal experts, who believe that neither party has the right to claim victory in a saga that has tainted the start of the 2011 F1 campaign.

Despite both parties attempting to do just that [see story here], Collyer Bristow's Tim Lowles insists that their refusal to hammer out an amicable solution has led to neither getting their desired outcome, and has left casual F1 fans with the confusion of having two Lotus-branded teams on the grid.

Justice Peter Smith announced his verdict on the long-running affair during the rest day in Monaco, claiming that it was 'unfortunate' that it had even reached the stage of legal proceedings but finding in favour of both parties on separate issues.

"It is unfortunate, in my view, that this case came before the courts and was incapable of resolution beforehand," he wrote in his summary of the case, "However, if the parties cannot agree to resolve a dispute, that is why the courts are here.

"At the end of the day, I cannot help feeling that the parties are better competing against each other on the F1 racetrack. Equally, I cannot help avoiding the feeling that F1 followers would actually find that [the wrangling] enhances F1 and they would be interested to see which of the two Lotus cars was more successful and which then might possibly be better placed to claim to be successors to the Colin Chapman mantle."

Group Lotus came out on top when the judge decided that Team Lotus had indeed breached a licence agreement 'almost immediately after the licence agreement was entered into'. This decision was reached on the basis that Tony Fernandes' operation entered into a number of contracts without prior approval of Group Lotus, particularly in respect of merchandising, which the judge found to be a serious breach.

In his opinion, Group Lotus was therefore entitled to terminate the five-year agreement that had been secured by Fernandes to use the Lotus name, and entitled to damages, albeit in respect of the merchandising breaches only. These damages have not yet been quantified, but Lowles says that he does not expect them to be significant.

The judge also found that Group Lotus was the rightful holder of the 'Lotus' trademarks, but that the 'Team Lotus' registered trade mark should be revoked on the basis of 'non-use', in as far as it had not been used for five years in the context of F1 racing. However, he also found that, after the Lotus company was floated in 1968, both the 'Lotus' and 'Team Lotus' brands were treated separately and that both established a significant amount of goodwill. As such, both parties were entitled to use the marks they claimed to own, with Fernandes having acquired the 'Team Lotus' brand from previous owner David Hunt in order to use it in F1 from 2011 on.

The judge further found that there would be no obvious confusion among F1 followers, with the belief that people would know the difference between the Lotus Renault team and Team Lotus. Group Lotus, however, has announced that it is to appeal on these grounds, possibly paving the way for another lengthy dispute between the two parties.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
26.05.2011- First Practice Session, Nick Heidfeld (GER) Lotus Renault GP R31
26.05.2011- First Practice Session, Nick Heidfeld (GER) Lotus Renault GP R31
26.05.2011- First Practice Session, Jarno Trulli (ITA), Team Lotus, TL11
21.05.2011- Saturday Practice, Jarno Trulli (ITA), Team Lotus, TL11
08.03.2011- Jarno Trulli (ITA), Team Lotus, TL11
08.04.2011- Friday Practice 1, Nick Heidfeld (GER) Lotus Renault GP R31
2014 FIA European F3 champion Esteban Ocon is to test with Lotus F1
12.10.2014- Race, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W05 celebrates Manufactor title of Mercedes with the team
12.10.2014- Race, Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1 Team E22
12.10.2014- Max Chilton (GBR), Marussia F1 Team MR03 and all the Marussia F1 Team show a panel for Jules Bianchi (FRA) Marussia F1 Team MR03
12.10.2014- Fernando Alonso (ESP) Scuderia Ferrari F14T, Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari F14T, Marco Mattiacci (ITA) Team Principal, Scuderia Ferrari and the Ferrari F1 team show a panel for Jules Bianchi (FRA) Marussia F1 Team MR03
12.10.2014- Race, Adrian Sutil (GER) Sauber F1 Team C33
12.10.2014- After Race Press Conference,  Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams F1 Team FW36
12.10.2014- Race, Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1 Team E22
12.10.2014- Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Caterham F1 Team CT05 and Marcus Ericsson (SWE) Caterham F1 Team CT-04
12.10.2014- Race, Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams F1 Team FW36
12.10.2014- Race, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W05 celebrates Manufactor title of Mercedes with the team
12.10.2014- Race, Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) Sauber F1 Team C33

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Rob - Unregistered

May 29, 2011 10:08 AM

Jake.... The judge should have made this one of the conditions..That would have shut-up the Fernades money grabber Its all about money they cant race or score points so they go for the money what a rubbish team no points in 2 seasons

Nick - Unregistered

May 29, 2011 4:19 PM

Its a pity the judge dosent read Autosport F1 results theres no way he would let this bunch of monkeys use Colin Chapmans name as a race team another zero points finish from the team that promised points after Barcelona. They dont even try to race just parade round at the back picking up places from the DNF's. This was there big chance to get points but not enough fell off shame,

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