Caterham Cars owner Team Lotus has won the battle to retain their name in a High Court dispute with Group Lotus, manufacturers of Lotus Cars and once owners of the Lotus 7 — the car that has formed the basis of almost all Caterhams for nearly 40 years .
Although both sides emerged from court claiming victory, the reality is this: Mr Justice Peter Smith decreed that Group Lotus is the only one allowed to refer to itself as Lotus Racing (remember they are effectively title sponsor to the Renault F1 team, which races in the iconic black and gold livery of the World Championship winning Lotus F1 team of old), BUT Tony Fernandes’ Team Lotus outfit gets to keep and use the name it acquired from David Hunt, brother of Formula 1 legend James, when the original Lotus F1 team was disbanded.
So no change, really. Other than Fernandes may look just a little more smug while walking around Monte Carlo this weekend during the Monaco Grand Prix.
The court’s decision in Team Lotus’ favour means that we may not be seeing a Caterham badged Formula 1 team on the grid any time soon, which commentators expected would happen if Fernandes lost — and it may have been more than just rumours, as several Caterham F1 derived website domain names have been registered by the team in recent months.
And the battle may have been won, but the war is far from over — Group Lotus, owned by Malaysia’s Proton, is lodging an appeal against the decision in an attempt to stop the green and yellow team from making any reference to its brand at all. This not only includes trying to get the rival team renamed, but ceasing use of an almost identical logo on their F1 cars which differs only in using the script “Team Lotus” rather than “Lotus” — other than this detail both are green and yellow and feature the initials of Colin Anthony Bruce Chapman, founder of Lotus and designer of the Lotus 7.