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Page last updated at 15:23 GMT, Monday, 27 September 2010 16:23 UK

Lotus naming rights row deepens

Drivers Jarno Trulli (left), Fairuz Fauzy (second left), Heikki Kovalainen and Team Principal Tony Fernandes pose with the Lotus T127
Fernandes (right) and the Lotus drivers pose with the T127 car

The row over the use of the Lotus name in Formula 1 has deepened.

Proton, the owner of Lotus road cars, is fighting an attempt by Lotus Racing team chief Tony Fernandes to use the historic Team Lotus name in 2011.

"Tony Fernandes has no rights to use the Lotus brand in the 2011 season," said Proton chairman Nadzmi Salleh.

However Lotus Racing has countered by issuing proceedings in the London High Court that "Team Lotus Ventures has the rights to use the Team Lotus name."

The struggle for control of the Team Lotus brand name in motor sport is a complicated one.

606: DEBATE
Maniac Street Preacher- RIP Markus Liebherr

Team Lotus were a leading force in the 1960s and 1970s, winning six drivers' and seven constructors' championships.

However, they left F1 in 1994 because of financial problems and the rights to the Team Lotus name were subsequently bought by businessman David Hunt - brother of 1976 F1 world champion James Hunt.

Lotus re-entered F1 this year under Malaysian ownership.

Fernandes is keen to emphasise the links between his new team and the legendary outfit - founded by Colin Chapman in the 1950s - having acquired the naming rights from Hunt.

But Proton dispute Hunt's right to the Team Lotus name and said it would support Group Lotus in protecting its rights.

"We will strongly resist any attempts by him to use our brand without our permission and will withdraw our sponsorship of the Lotus Racing team," said Salleh.

"We believe the Lotus brand to be one of the most valuable brands in Formula One.

"We are the owners of this brand, and will take all necessary steps to protect it."

In addition, while Fernandes' team have the rights to the Lotus name in F1, Proton also has some commercial rights to the brand and intends to enter the GP2 and GP3 series next year in an alliance with ART Grand Prix.

The new team would be known as Lotus ART and run by Nicholas Todt, son of FIA president Jean Todt and manager of Ferrari driver Felipe Massa.

To complicate matters further, Air Asia, co-founded by Fernandes, has also entered its own GP2 team for the 2011 season which could lead to a line-up with Fernandes' F1 team.

Malaysian tycoon Fernandes said if the Group Lotus team attempted to enter F1 under the Lotus banner it could open the door to legal action.



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see also
Lotus revive historic team name
24 Sep 10 |  Formula 1
Lotus revive original team name
12 Sep 10 |  Formula 1
Lotus celebrates 60 years of F1
06 Apr 10 |  History
Lotus thrilled by Formula 1 debut
15 Mar 10 |  Formula 1
In pictures: Lotus F1 car launch
12 Feb 10 |  People and Places
Lotus will return to F1 in 2010
15 Sep 09 |  Formula 1


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