Lotus court battle ends in Formula One status quo

Team Lotus have retained the right to use the Norfolk marque in Formula One, according to a High Court judgment.

Tony Fernandes' Hingham constructor and Group Lotus have been in a bitter public spat since last summer over who can use the Lotus name in F1.

And Mr Justice Peter Smith's verdict, following a 10-day High Court trial in March, has decided Team Lotus do have the right to continue racing under their current name and with a Lotus chassis in the sport.

The Norfolk constructor can also keep its green and yellow livery, while small British sports car manufacturer Caterham will now become a part of Fernandes' automotive project, after he purchased the Dartford company in April.

As for Group Lotus, it will have to make do with its �100m sponsorship of the Renault F1 team, while it will be allowed to keep its black and gold colour scheme designed to evoke memories of Lotus' glittering past in the sport.

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Fernandes said: 'We are all pleased that it has been clarified that we are the rightful owners of Team Lotus. We have always been confident that the factual evidence we presented would lead to this decision and today's judgment confirms that belief.

'We wanted to develop a long-term relationship with Group Lotus and help them sell more cars around the world but that door closed and now we are delighted that we can turn our attention to ensuring success for Caterham Cars on the road and Team Lotus on track.

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'Now our main aim is to build on the solid foundations that has made Caterham Cars the model for how to run a profitable contemporary car company and add more history to the incredible story of Team Lotus over the coming months and years and with the people, spirit, passion and determination we have in both businesses we know that marks the next stage in our incredible story.'

Group Lotus claimed the judgment gave them victory 'on key issues', which included being awarded damages – the amount is still to be assessed – after Fernandes' Hingham team was found to have breached its licence from the Hethel company to operate as Lotus Racing in its debut season last year.

But while Team Lotus will not appeal the judgment, Group Lotus is seeking leave to appeal having failed to force a change of name on Fernandes' Norfolk team.

Mr Justice Smith's verdict did revoke the Team Lotus trademarks from use while the team was not active – but that period ended in 2008, leaving Fernandes' team free to race under the iconic marque.

'Group Lotus is concerned that this aspect of the judgment will cause confusion in the eyes of spectators and the wider public,' said the statement from Hethel. 'Accordingly, Group Lotus is seeking leave to appeal so that the right to use the Lotus brand in Formula One is clarified once and for all in the interests of the sport and the fans.

'Group Lotus and its shareholder Proton Holding Bhd are confident of success on appeal.'

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