The Star: Thursday September 30, 2010
Long-drawn fight expected
PETALING JAYA: The cordial-turned-sour relationship between Lotus Racing Formula One team and Proton Holdings Bhd is not likely to be patched up any time soon.
Their fight over who owns the ‘Team Lotus’ rights, which has reached the British courts, is set to continue with Proton-owned Group Lotus insisting that former British racing driver David Hunt did not have the rights to the Team Lotus company.
It claimed that Group Lotus did not sign a deed to effect the transfer of the company after Hunt bought Team Lotus from a liquidator in 1994. Proton claimed it had lodged a lawsuit on that matter to secure the rights to use Team Lotus and its brand, said a source.
“The brand is about the company and the car,” the source said yesterday.
Hunt had recently sold his Team Lotus Ventures Ltd and the rights to the Team Lotus name to locally-backed Lotus Racing. Team Lotus is an iconic name in the motorsport world.
The privately-funded Lotus Racing team is jointly-owned by Tune Group founder and AirAsia group chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes, Tune Group co-owner Datuk Kamarudin Meranun and Naza Group chief executive officer SM Nasarudin SM Nasimuddin.
Proton then announced on Monday that it was terminating the Lotus Racing licence it gave to 1Malaysia Racing Team to race in Formula One. The relationship between Lotus Racing and Proton became more tense during the team’s maiden F1 season.
Lotus Racing on Tuesday had filed an application with the English High Court to declare that Team Lotus Ventures, which was now owned by Tune Group, was the rightful owner to the Team Lotus brand.
The court documents stated that the purpose for the declaration proceeding was to “establish the validity of Team Lotus Ventures’ position as the true owner of the name Team Lotus”.
Group Lotus owns the car-making and engineering companies under the Lotus banner while Team Lotus historically is the owner of the racing team.
Both companies were separated by Lotus’ original owner Colin Chapman to distinigush its functions in his company.
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