Greetings from Paris! We’re in the city of romance to bring you coverage of the 2010 Paris Motor Show, and yours truly just got back from a Lotus gala dinner where the Proton subsidiary showed off FIVE new models that will be unveiled tomorrow at the show. Yes, you read right, five new models!
There’s an embargo in place, so you’ll have to be patient for that, but we took the opportunity to catch up with Proton MD Datuk Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir to quiz him about the ongoing row between Proton/Group Lotus and the Lotus Racing team headed by Tony Fernandes. The boss was eager to set a few things straight after 1Malaysia Racing issued a statement of their own two days ago.
“I repeat that Group Lotus is the only company entitled to use the “Lotus” name in Formula 1 and that Tony Fernandes and 1Malaysia fully accepted this when they came to us in 2009 for permission to use our “Lotus” name for F1. 1Malaysia has not adhered to the terms of the license. It has sold an extensive range of unapproved merchandise and stayed outside the field of its license (which is limited to F1),” Syed Zainal said.
“I would like to correct the statement made by Lotus Racing that Group Lotus was unsuccessful in revoking Team Lotus trademarks. This statement is completely unfounded and incorrect. We have been advised by our lawyers that the Team Lotus trademarks owned by Team Lotus Ventures (TLV) are invalid for many reasons, and we are currently pursuing proceedings at the Trade Mark Registry to prove this. We are confident of success.
“Group Lotus has applied on a number of occasions to revoke Team Lotus trademark registrations on the basis of non use. In the course of these proceedings, neither David Hunt or TLV have provided us or the court with any details of why or how it believes it owns any rights to Team Lotus despite repeated requests,” he explained.
“Proton and Group Lotus will do all in their power to protect the Lotus name, which is one of the most valuable brands in F1. Group Lotus will issue proceedings in the next few days to stop this unlawful use of the Lotus name. Our lawyers have advised us that we have a strong case and we are confident of success,” he added.
That confidence was on display in tonight’s event. The grand ceremony had a heavy motorsports heritage flavour, with Lotus reminding the audience with displays, videos and appearances of Clive Chapman (son of Lotus founder Colin) and Sir Stirling Moss. Both men spoke on stage – the former publicly praised Proton’s stewardship of Lotus while the F1 legend recalled good memories driving for Team Lotus. It can be seen as throwing weight behind Group Lotus’ right to hold the name.
At the event, Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar underlined the importance of racing heritage to the brand, saying that Lotus “was about racing and will always be about racing,” adding that motorsports will from now be one of the company’s main pillars of communications.
From the looks of it, Proton and Group Lotus will not back down easily and will take the fight till the end.