The verdict is out. Justice Peter Smith has given his verdict at the British High Court and declared that Group Lotus has the right to use the name “Lotus” on its own within Formula 1. Group Lotus, which is title sponsor of Lotus Renault GP, is entitled to race in the historic black and gold livery, which is currently used by LRGP.

The judge found that the Proton subsidiary has goodwill associated with the name “Lotus” in Formula 1 and is free to compete in the sport under that name using the Lotus roundel. Also, Group Lotus trade mark registrations are unaffected and Group Lotus has the right to use the Lotus marque on cars for road use.

The judge also decided that 1Malaysia Racing Team Sdn Bhd, the owners of Team Lotus, is in breach of the Licence granted to them by Group Lotus to race in F1 under the name Lotus Racing (the name it used last year) and has awarded Group Lotus damages in respect of that breach.

However, the above concerns the name “Lotus”. Team Lotus has the right to continue to race in Formula 1 under the name “Team Lotus” with the “Team” in it. Basically, things go on as they are. The entire transcript of the decision can be read here.

Group Lotus’ response is that they’re concerned that this aspect of the Judgment will cause confusion in the eyes of spectators and the wider public. Group Lotus is seeking leave to appeal so that the right to use the Lotus brand in Formula 1 is clarified once and for all in the interests of the sport and the fans. Group Lotus and Proton are confident of success on appeal.

Sarah Price, Head of Legal at Group Lotus said: “Group Lotus is pleased that its right to race under the Lotus name in F1 has been upheld and that the Defendants’ attempts to stop that have failed.

“The on-going dispute with Team Lotus and associated companies has been a cause for concern for all at Group Lotus. Despite the detailed judgment there are issues which still require clarification and we remain committed to obtaining this much needed clarity for the many fans of the Lotus marque – we are extremely grateful for their continued support. The decision to appeal has not been taken lightly.”

Team Lotus, on the other hand, is naturally delighted at the Judgement. Team Principal Tony Fernandes declared on behalf of fellow shareholders Kamarudin Meranun and SM Nasarudin. “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,” he said

“We are of course disappointed about the decision that Group Lotus was entitled to end the our licence agreement in 2010. We entered into that contract on the basis that we were beginning a long-term partnership with Group Lotus but unfortunately they then used technical breaches of the merchandising pre-notification process to bring the licence and our partnership to an end.

“However, my fellow shareholders and I are firm believers that when one door closes another door opens. In the early days of our agreement we realised its termination was inevitable and as events have unfolded the end of the licence has proved positive for us, with many new avenues being opened up as a result.
“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. These are two very exciting brands and their future development, bringing these two iconic brands together under the Caterham Team Lotus umbrella, will see us introduce new Caterham cars and a range of new Team Lotus brands into the global marketplace.

“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,” the statement read.

However, there’s one statement that we don’t fully understand. It was mentioned in Group Lotus’ press statement that “Team Lotus Ventures Limited’s trade mark registrations in the name of Team Lotus are cancelled as a result of non-use”. Could this mean that they can race under the name, but not market/commercialise it?