Legal battle for Lotus F1 name

Two teams bearing the Lotus name are due to race in the 2011 Formula One season, which could lead to a legal brawl.

The first race, the Bahrain Grand Prix in March, will see Lotus Renault GP and Team Lotus compete against each other - but only one is an official Lotus team.

That title goes to Lotus Renault GP (pictured), a team formed when the Norfolk-based firm bought into the Renault F1 team last year (2010).

The move is supposed to be the start of an F1 revival for Lotus and a return to its glory days of the Sixties and Seventies.

However, last year Lotus sold the rights to its name to Malaysian entrepreneur Tony Fernandes, who used it to rename his 1Malaysia F1 Team for the 2010 season.

Heading into the 2011 season with a newly formed official F1 team, Lotus isn't happy with the Malaysian deal anymore, so it has attempted to withdraw the rights to its name from Mr Fernandes.

In turn, Mr Fernandes has appealed to the British High Court to find out whether he can continue to use the name - and to prevent Lotus from going back on a legitimate deal.

The agreement with Lotus - owned by Malaysian company Proton - was made before it appointed a new chief executive, Dany Bahar. His growth plans for the company are extensive. They include motorsport and the unveiled under controversial circumstances at the 2010 Paris Motor Show.

Mr Bahar does not want the Lotus name to be used by two F1 teams and has attempted to prevent that from happening in a number of ways, including buying out Mr Fernandes.

Talking to the BBC he said: "I don't think it will be a matter solved by English courts. I think it will be solved before that. But if we have to go the legal way, we will - and our shareholders will support that."

The 2011 F1 season begins on March 13 at the Bahrain International Circuit.


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