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It’s Lotus vs Lotus again!
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It’s Lotus vs Lotus again!
Posted By: James Allen  |  13 Jan 2011   |  5:48 pm GMT  |  192 comments

Today we had the official unveiling of the new black and gold livery by the Renault team, now sponsored by Group Lotus.

And with amazing timing, this evening the other Lotus, now known as Team Lotus, has put out a provocative video on You Tube of the rebranding of its HQ at Hingham with the classic Team Lotus logo and colour scheme.

Just before Christmas Hazel and Clive Chapman, the widow and son of Lotus founder Colin Chapman, issued a statement saying that they no longer support the efforts of Tony Fernandes’ team and do not wish him to call it Team Lotus. This was a blow to Fernandes who made much of the Chapman family’s support in the launch of the team and throughout last season.

But there has always been a faultline over what is Lotus and what is Team Lotus. After Group Lotus withdrew the five year licence for Fernandes’ team to use the Lotus name, on the grounds of a dispute over a T shirt and Fernandes struck a deal with David Hunt to use the rights to Team Lotus, the Chapman family lined up with Group Lotus and its CEO Danny Behar. They all feel that Team Lotus should be left to rest in peace.

Fernandes was at Hingham last week and today’s video shows the response of Fernandes and his technical director Mike Gascoyne to that pre-Christmas development.

The High Court in London is due to hear the dispute between the two sides this summer, but many in the F1 paddock feel that the season cannot be allowed to start with the uncertainty hanging. F1 sponsors I have spoken to recently all say that they would have a major problem with sponsoring either team with this confusion in place. But neither side looks remotely like backing down at the moment.

Meanwhile the Lotus sponsored Renault team has said today that it will race under a British racing licence. The team is based in Enstone, Oxfordshire, but as Renault is a French company they raced under a French licence. With Group Lotus’ involvement they have gone British.

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1

When a team publishes it’s financial results is it clear who the team sponsors are?

I would put good money on Imperial tobacco (owners of the JPS brand) having made a contribution to the Renault 2011 budget. There are no happy coincidence’s in business. In the few countries where Imperial tobacco are allowed to advertise, there is clear reference to motor sport and a tag line of “the legend returns”

This coupled with almost every other sponsor from 2010 not appearing on the “definitive” 2011 livery launch at the Autosport Show. Imperial tobacco have managed to find a quiet way into the sport. I’m sure of it.

If Renault are prepared to claim they have no agreement with Imperial Tobacco they should launch legal action against them. Advertising campaigns do not happen overnight, the actions of Imperial Tobacco are well thought through. It doesn’t seem like the action of a large established company to trade on implied connections in the knowledge that they will be opening themselves up to prosecution.

2

I was just thinking it Lotus cars is putting the extra cash in Renault, is there a need for Petrov?

He didnt really impress alot in 2010, and his seat seems to bear all the hallmarks of a pay driver. So should the now Lotus Renault GP look for drivers to push them further up in the standards and challenge for the 3rd place they are aiming for in 2011.

I guess we just have to watch this space.

3

One other thing Tony and Mike.

The green and gold is a fantastic colour scheme, but what about the old Gold Leaf red and white livery.

As for Renaults black and gold, doesn’t really work.

4

I’m so pleased that people are beginning to see through the cynical marketing exercise that is Renault, sorry Lotus, no sorry again Genii Capital.

How Behar keeps a straight face as he signs up existing teams and sticks the lotus name on them – both in the States and in F1 – is beyond me.

What exactly is Lotus contribution to the design, engineering and logistics of any team they are invlved in – None. But they do give them money.

Sorry but if you want the Chapman ethos, look for a small team in Norfolk, performing on the world stage against the odds and punching above their weight with an innovative engineering director. Team Lotus are the real inheritors of the Chapman tradition. Not a Malaysian car maker buying their way in to F1 and Indycar with little or no technical contribution.

PS – Can’t wait for the Ferrari slaying road cars that are due out ! (Puff puff puff).

5

IF yuo had read above, Tony Fernandes is going to be laughed out of court……….

6

Surely that will depend on the legitimacy of the deal that David Hunt did all thise years ago.

7

AND

Whether or not Team Lotus ever was a separate entity to the Lotus Co

8

How people’s allegiences can change. At the Classic Team Lotus Festival at Snetterton last year, everybody (including the Chapmans) was all buddy-buddy with Fernandes and co.

Here’s the link :

http://www.lotus-festival.com/

and here’s the ‘official’ video :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EmoVraTe248

9

Thing is though, at that point the cooperation with Group Lotus was still going well.

There’s a video here, from the Autosport show this weekend, where Clive is asked about the issue. He emphasises that they have always supported the Group, and are merely continuing to do so: http://www.lotuscars.com/motorsport/en/motorsportvideos

One thing that surprises me is how many are talking about how Fernandes’ team deserves to be named Lotus because he treated the heritage and name with such respect. I agree that the way he went about basing the team in Norfolk, securing the support of Group Lotus (including getting the next type number: T127) and getting the support of the Chapman family really was great, and did a lot to convince many, including myself.

The way I see it, it is however important to remember that Fernandes had only licensed the use of the name. The way he talked about it though, he gave the impression that he was now the owner of Lotus Racing. See for example here, where he says ” It hasn’t really sunk in yet that I own Lotus Racing”: http://www.teamlotus.co.uk/team/management/tony-fernandes/tony's-team.aspx

Problem was, that he (before doing the deal with Hunt) never had any ownership claim to the Lotus name. I suspect that part of what led to the entire souring of the relationship was just this kind of talk, where Tony was positioning himself in the media as the face of Lotus, and the “heir” of Colin Chapman. Combine this with the fact that he then went ahead and bought the Team Lotus name from David Hunt (this was, as far as I know, done before the license was terminated) and the many reports/speculations that his long term agenda was to move in on a takover of Group Lotus, and I can very much understand why the license agreement was terminated, regarless of the legal details of t-shirts they claim in public.

Now if you are in a business licensing a brand name, I am sorry but this is to me not in any way treating that brand with respect. I am still a fan of the team, especially Mike Gascoyne, and what they have acheived, but I for one am now hoping that they move on and build their own heritage around their own name.

10
Mike from Medellin, Colombia

I wonder what was behind the Chapman’$ $udden change of heart…to $uddenly $witch their $upport for Group Lotu$$$ ???

11

my suggested name for the Proton/lotus f1 team

is Delorean.

12

Brilliant!

13

>>Group Lotus seem to just care about making the car company profitable<<

Yes, thats their job. Ppl send them money to do their thing only if they can reasonably expect to get it back with interest.

This is the great divide between racers and manufacturers.

14

Something I haven’t seen mentioned yet in any meaningful way is the fact that the black and gold livery has NOTHING to do with Lotus (Group/Racing?anything) It is/was the colours or branding for John Player Specials, which are cigarettes. Sure the Lotus F1 cars form the past with that livery are iconic, but I actually feel that the green and yellow that Tony and Mike are stuck with is the more relevant paint scheme for Lotus Racing. This is all really nauseating and if Danny was before me right now would receive a swift kick in the g’nads!

15

I think this whole tempest is excellent exposure for Danny B’s Lotus. I see *no positive aspects to it for Tony F’s Lotus, however.

I’ve learned more about Lotus cars lately than in the last 20 years. But whatever I may have learned about Lotus F1 is of no consequence.

The turmoil is free advertising for Lotus Cars and a pain in the neck for Tony’s Lotus.

So imho it’s advantage: Danny B.

16

The fact that both are now running the logo with Chapman’s initials is the biggest joke. A names a name and while it’s silly more than one team is operating the name, the fact the corporate identity – the motif – is the same for both, it makes a mockery of the entire thing and that will cause confusion.

Good job all that new branding is on peelable vinyl eh.

17

Fernandes might want to think about selling the name back to the Malaysian nut jobs. Let them have the name and get a deal with Cosworth to be a all in one “Cosworth Racing” team. A Good name with no nut jobs trying to screw him over.

18

Bit tricky, as they will be using Renault engines. The nice guys at Cosworth may take exception!

19

Easy fix. Change engines. No biggy. lol

20

Who cares…? This off season is boring compared to last year when we had USF1 to joke about.

21

And Schumacher comeback and Button to McLaren..

22

I think the only solution is for Group Lotus to buy Team Lotus back – the name at least. Then the name is rightfully home. Mind you that will for sure cost a bundle now as Fernandes is thoroughly ticked off with Bahar and who could blame him? It makes sense for Tony to stick to his guns as long as possible. He undoubtedly wants to pick up Group for a song and given the fickle nature of politicians he just might see it happen yet if Bahar crashes and burns. As an original Lotus fan and car owner I want to see the marque successful. Realistically that means Group – preferably under Fernandes’ ownership! If Bahar had been smart, he would have bought the name from Hunt and respectfully wooed Fernandes into an ever more cozy relationship with Group. That way at least he might have been guaranteed a job when the Malaysian Government steps out!

23

jonrob, James, et all. About the trademark situation.

What jonrob says about the limitations of use inside/outside of F1 of the two trademarks he links (1337455 and 2289924) is correct, but there are particularly two aspects of these two trademarks that are worth noting:

– the Class (35, specified as the selling of advertising space on a racing car)

– the age of the trademark, and when it was last used.

The Team Lotus trademark you reference, that is still registered, was first registered in 1988, when the Chapman family owned Team Lotus and GM owned Group Lotus. I find it interesting that the logo registered in this trademark is a version of the “modern” (post 1986) Lotus logo, and is quite different to the classic Team Lotus logo (as still often used by Classic Team Lotus today). Up until 1988 Team Lotus never had a trademark registration of any kind, but always had a permission from Group Lotus to use the ACBC Lotus logo, and variants of this that would include the word TEAM written on the top half of the logo. One thing I have been wondering quite a bit about is the reasoning that went behind registering this trademark, and the selection of Class 35 (originally without any restrictions within the class) to register it in. It does however seem quite obvious that the registration was done in cooperation with Group Lotus.

The trademark right stayed with the team When the Chapman family sold Team Lotus to Peter Warr and Peter Colins in 1990, and later ended up being owned by David Hunt’s company Team Lotus Ventures when he bought it out of administration in October 1994. In 1995 Hunt did a deal with Pacific to become Pacific Team Lotus, and the Team Lotus name has hence not been used in F1 since.

Hunt has since tried to get the name back into F1, without success. One of the basic grounds for keeping a trademark registration is continued use in the classes it is registered for. A trademark registration is not an eternal right, but given and renewed every five years as long as you can show that you are using it in the class it is registered for. When Group Lotus applied for revocation of the class 35 registration in Jan 2002 they were therefore partially successful, because Team Lotus Ventures had not done any racing for more than five years, and got a revocation of all rights Team Lotus Ventures had except for in F1. The case details are here:

http://www.ipo.gov.uk/types/tm/t-os/t-find/t-challenge-decision-results/o14703.pdf

This revocation is the reason Group Lotus got the registration you reference for all applications of selling ad space on racing cars, except in F1. One thing I notice in the case details is that the Class 35 trademark is for what the judge refers to as “collateral services” to running an F1 team. Originally Team Lotus Ventures did not have a trademark registration in Class 41, which includes “running a motor racing team”, and in my opinion is the most logical class to have coverage for if you want to run an F1 team, and do all the branding exercises that goes with it. Team Lotus Ventures applied for a class 41 registration in 2002 and got it in 2003. This trademark was however revoked in Jan 2010 after opposition filed by Group Lotus in Sept 2008 on the grounds of not being used in the past five years. Case details here:

http://www.ipo.gov.uk/types/tm/t-os/t-find/t-challenge-decision-results/o02610.pdf

Shortly after filing the above opposition, in Oct 2008, Group Lotus applied for a registration of the word Lotus in Class 35, 39 and 41. This was granted in july 2009, and does not include any restrictions on use in F1. As this registration was given more than five years after the previous five year extension of the Team Lotus trademark, it could go some way to deny the rights of the Team Lotus trademark, and would quite probably make it very difficult for Team Lotus now to get a registration in the same classes, as they have applied for. Details here:

http://www.ipo.gov.uk/ohim?ohimnum=E7389471

This is not at least enhanced by the fact that Group Lotus has in fact been present with the Lotus name in F1 last year, using the Lotus Racing trademark that they filed for registration in October 2009, and licensed to be used by Tony Fernandes this year. The fact that a trademark containing the word Lotus, owned by Group Lotus, has been used in F1 this year could well prove to be a decisive, and somewhat ironic, factor in the legal struggle lying ahead.

The case is however not in any way clear cut, and although I see it as beeing Group Lotus that has the strongest legal position, I still think it is a huge risk for both parties to actually fight this out in court, and I am therefore still quite sure that all will be settled before that.

24

now, that was a pretty good effort, thanks a lot.

25

@gtornes, thanks, great post, now everything becomes more clear for me

26

Thanks very much for that very thorough and interesting post.

27

I believe any one has the right to be called what they want!

lotus racing was there 1st! 1st come 1st serve!

if they want to be called team lotus then let them get on with it!

no more petty squabbling!

anyway there is still plenty more classic team names!, if they want to bring them back? tyrell, brm, brabham etc!

at the end of the day it works for red bull and toro rosso! so i see no problem.

28

Mike Gascoyne looks like Dr Evil…

Don’t mean to infer he is.

Just an observation.

Sorry Mike.

29

Rumour has it he is very cuddly, especially under pressure.

30

Money can buy you a team but it can’t buy you respect, Mr. Bahar. Lotus-Renault?! Boggles.

31

If I remember correctly, the black and gold livery was a JPS branding of the car, so the fact that they are using it, but not using the JPS brand (and yes I know that they cant even if they wanted to) makes as much of a mockery of them as the Team Lotus lot using Lotus branding.

In other words, they are all as bad as each other, they’ve both decided to run with something that is not trully theirs. It reminds me of one christmas I had when both of my nephews fought bitterly over a red bike and a green bike. Both wanted the green one, then both wanted the red one, and neither one of them wanted the other to have anything.

That was a nightmare christmas and my eardrums have yet to recover, despite it being 10+ years ago, I fear we’re in for the same kind of nightmare season where this will all detract from some great racing.

33

People often joked that with their road cars, Lotus stood for ‘Lots Of Trouble Usually Serious’. Perhaps now the acronym will mean ‘Lots Of Teams Using Solicitors’

34

We have a French race team operating with a British license whose cars carry the logo of a Malaysian owned British car manufacturer and are painted in the livery of a cigarette brand that they have no connection with.

And, we have a Malaysian race team whose cars are painted British Racing Green and carry a name and logo nearly identical to the name and logo of the French team.

No problem- we can call them Black Lotus and Green Lotus, or simply Black and Green.

Imperial Tobacco and the BRDC must be delighted.

35

Group Lotus seem to just care about making the car company profitable, which it is not at the moment. I do not see them caring about the Team Lotus history. However, so far, I have not seen them disrespect it either.

Team Lotus have been great to watch and I feel like I want to see them grow as they seem to be what Team Lotus is all about. Underdogs trying to out perform themselves.

They should both be brought together under one big Lotus banner. After all I believe I am right that Colin Chapman built the Lotus Cars to sell to provide money to support his racing under the Lotus name. Just like Ferrari was.

People talking about the Lotus Renault team now having a British Liscence and saying how can it, Renault is French, Lotus is Malaysian owned and genii capital are from Luxembourg. Simple: Lotus are British, based in Norfolk, and the F1 team factory is in England. Better the RBR who build their cars here etc but they race as an Austrian team because Reb Bull and it’s owner originate from there

36

“Group Lotus seem to just care about making the car company profitable, which it is not at the moment. “

I’m afraid that trying to develop 5 new cars at once will place a huge if not fatal strain on the Lotus Cars resources both engineering and more significantly, financial. Lotus Cars did have some really great engineers and a good organisation, however I understand that a lot of the old guard were ousted after Bahar’s arrival.

Whilst Proton (or it’s bankers) is rumoured to be providing $1.5Bn funding, it is nowhere near enough to develop 5 new cars.

37

“Whilst Proton (or it’s bankers) is rumoured to be providing $1.5Bn funding, it is nowhere near enough to develop 5 new cars.”

Yes, it is. It takes about $200mil to develop a sport car

38

I heard and I’m pretty sure it was from James in this site, that it nowadays costs $800m

39

This may be a little off topic here, but can anyone please explain to me the difference between the Black & Gold (JPS) livery that the Renault/Lotus team are planning to use and the Marlbro Bar Code (that wasn’t a bar code) which Ferrari were banned from using last year. If anything the Black & Gold, because of it’s history, is explicitly cigarette branding, is it not????

40

I believe the difference is that the barcode was deemed subliminal form of advertising whereas in the case of Renault, these are just a colour scheme i.e. Renault does not benefit from a cigarette/tobacco manufacturer.

This is just my understanding. A lawyer would need to confirm.

41

Okay, this is a little childish of Team Lotus.

It really is a no brainer which one is the real Lotus in F1. Historically it is Team Lotus and Fernandes got the rights to use the name and logo. It is Team Lotus vs (Lotus) Renault. End of story.

I really like the family feel of Team Lotus as opposed to the corporate feel of Group Lotus.

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