F1: Proton to block Tony Fernandes’ use of Lotus name
Proton, the Malaysian car manufacturer that owns Lotus, will contest Tony Fernandes’ attempt to use the Team Lotus brand next season.
Proton says it has terminated a licence for Lotus Racing boss Fernandes’ 1Malaysia Racing Team to compete under the name and would take “all necessary steps” to prevent him using the Team Lotus brand in 2011.
A statement from the manufacturer read: “Proton will support Group Lotus in taking all necessary steps to protect its rights in the “Lotus” name, including resisting any attempts by Mr Fernandes or his companies, or any other unauthorised person, to use the “Lotus” name in the 2011 Formula 1 season.
“Since 1994, David Hunt has claimed to have acquired assets of Team Lotus, including its name, from the liquidator.
“He has never raced as Lotus. Mr Hunt’s attempt to acquire the name Team Lotus was ineffective. Group Lotus is the owner of all rights in the “Lotus” automotive brand including those relating to Formula 1.
“Group Lotus believes these rights to have no proper legal foundation, a fact of which Mr. Fernandes was well aware when his company purchased them.”
Proton said Group Lotus had terminated its current licence to Fernandes because of “flagrant and persistent breaches of the licence by 1 Malaysia Racing Team, which were damaging to the Lotus brand”.
Following the announcement of a challenge from Group Lotus, CEO of Lotus Racing Riad Asmat said: “We have today issued proceedings in the English High Court for a declaration that Team Lotus Ventures has the rights to use the Team Lotus name and everything associated with that brand in relation to Formula 1.”
“Now we look to the future, he added. “The details of what has been going on behind the scenes are now coming to light, and that’s good because it means the shareholders of Proton, the government, will now know the truth of what has been going on.”