Group Lotus vs Team Lotus naming rights case decided

Published: 27 May 2011

The outcome of the UK High Court case over who has the right to race in Formula One under the 'Lotus' name has been decided, and both Malaysian-owned, UK-based Team Lotus, and Malaysian-owned, UK-based Group Lotus are claiming victory.

So who actually won the Lotus vs Lotus court case?

In the best tradition of sporting cliches, Lotus was the winner on the day. Group Lotus (makers of the road cars bearing the Lotus name) won the right to continue racing in F1 with the Lotus name, their current black and gold livery, and confirmed its exclusive rights to use the Lotus name and badge on road cars. 1Malaysia Team F1, who race as Team Lotus and operate under the umbrella company Team Lotus Ventures, have been ruled in breach of their original license to race as Lotus Racing, or use the word 'Lotus' on its own, and the court has awarded damages to Group Lotus.

OK, so Group Lotus wins. When do Team Lotus change their name?

Not so fast. The court also ruled that Team Lotus can continue to race in F1 as 'Team Lotus', and use the 'Team Lotus' badge (a close relative of the Lotus logo). But as Group Lotus retains the right to race as 'Lotus' in F1, the biggest casualties may well be F1 commentators, who will now have to differentiate between Team Lotus, currently known as 'Lotus', and Lotus Renault GP, referred to as 'Renault'.

So Group Lotus and Team Lotus both win? You're joking!

Not at all, just conveying what is a somewhat confusing outcome. Both Group Lotus and Team Lotus statements claim victory from the case. Group Lotus adds that it is seeking leave to appeal the judge's decision to clarify the use of the Lotus brand in F1, and Team Lotus mentions a new Caterham Team Lotus umbrella brand, with Caterham road cars and Team Lotus competing on the track.

In the end, both sides got something out of the decision. But the longer this acrimonious struggle between Team Lotus and Group Lotus continues, the longer this bizarre split tarnishes the legacy of the racing team and sports car company that both sides claim to uphold.

>> Which side are you on in the Lotus v Lotus debate? Share your views and possible solutions in the comments section below: