Rich Energy, the title sponsor of the Haas Formula 1 team, has lost a legal battle over its stag logo after being adjudged to have copied the design of a bicycle company.

Rich Energy became the title sponsor of Haas ahead of the 2019 season after an unsuccessful attempt by owner William Storey to buy the old Force India operation midway through 2018.

However, the energy drink company has been fighting a legal battle against Whyte Bikes after being accused of copying its stag logo, with the case being ruled on at the High Court in London on Tuesday.

Whyte Bikes sought as part of the copyright infringement claim for  "the removal of the logo of the First Defendant, Rich Energy Limited, from the Formula 1 race car and website of the Rich Energy Haas Formula 1 motor racing team," as per the judge's report.

Judge Melissa Clarke said that both Storey and Sean Kelly - the founder of StaxoWeb Ltd where the design originated - were "poor witnesses" and had "misled" the court, having claimed they were not aware of the Whyte Bikes logo.

"I am satisfied on the balance of probabilities that both Mr Kelly and Mr Storey have lied about not being familiar with C’s Device [Whyte's logo]," Clarke said in her final report.

"I find it more likely than not that they were familiar with it, and that they directly and knowingly copied C’s Device in designing D1’s Device [Rich Energy logo]."

The Hastings-based Whyte Bikes is now entitled to an injunction and damages, as well as a declaration of invalidity. Rich Energy is entitled to appeal, with matters being adjourned until a hearing on June 27.

Following the judgement, Rich Energy released the following statement:

"Rich Energy are considering to appeal a decision to change their existing logo after a United Kingdom court ruling declared its need to change," it reads.

"The now well-known branding of Rich Energy has been under scrutiny since the brand launched itself as a title sponsor within the global platform of Formula One. With over a billion people now watching the Rich Energy brand, the potential requirement to change its logo will not change the company’s future programs.

"Whilst the initial judgement is disappointing, and only applies to the United Kingdom, Rich Energy will now focus on its strong sales growth and commitment to delivering its premium product to current and new markets.

"William Storey CEO of Rich Energy said: 'I am disappointed in the ruling and felt the material facts speak for themselves, however this is a blip and won’t distract us from the tremendous progress being made. We are considering our legal options, including appeal, we will not allow it to become a distraction'."

Haas F1 had no further comment to offer beyond Rich Energy's statement.



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