In short, British inventor and car designer Colin Chapman was the founder of Lotus Cars, which first competed in motor racing events in 1948. He died of a heart attack in 1982 and, following which event there has sadly been a fair bit of contention as to who is qualified to use the term 'Lotus'. This has crystallised into the litigation noted in this post, and alluded to in an earlier post here. Some flavour of the dispute and what it means to the parties can be gleaned from today's report in the Irish Independent:
"In Monaco this weekend, in one particular pit garage, they were celebrating an important victory. [Entrepreneur and AirAsia founder] Tony Fernandes was jubilant at the hot-off-the-press news that a high court judge had just ruled that his team has a right to use the name 'Team Lotus'. Down the way at Renault, by contrast, the team's shareholder and title sponsor 'Group Lotus' -- which is owned by Proton -- were in shock. Proton had originally granted a license to Fernandes for the use of the name 'Lotus Racing' for five years. But one year into the contract they withdrew it. So Fernandes, who has invested over £80m in his team since its inception in 2009, purchased the dormant name 'Team Lotus' from David Hunt (brother of former world champion James Hunt), who had picked it up from the administrators when the iconic team went bankrupt in 1994.
The original Lotus MK1 was
a souped-up Austin 7
... 'Team Lotus', as the name suggests, is and was an F1 racing entity, whereas 'Group Lotus' manufactures cars. 'Team Lotus' switched from Cosworth to Renault engines this season. Group Lotus and a company called Genii Capital own the former 'Renault F1' team. It gets even more complicated than that. ... The Chapman family sold the Lotus company some 20 years ago and since then it has been owned by General Motors, Bugatti and now Proton. But having initially backed Fernandes' 'Team Lotus' in a fanfare of publicity, the Chapmans have switched their allegiance to Lotus-Renault.
Proton is Malaysian, as is the English-educated Fernandes. The car giant was part of a consortium that backed Fernandes when he first entered F1".
|The Kat glazes over with all these details to understan|
The judge made an interesting observation on this case, which occupied seven hearing days and plainly wasn't as much fun as the Da Vinci Code litigation in which this occasional IP judge presided:
"387. It is unfortunate in my view that this case came before the courts and was incapable of resolution beforehand. 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 nevertheless 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 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".The IPKat is enchanted with the notion of competing parties resolving their disputes in this fashion. If litigants fighting over a racing brand can settle their grievances over 24 laps at full throttle, there must be scope for other novel means of satisfying bruised honour.