• Lotus naming rights

Lotus piles into Proton in naming row

ESPNF1 Staff
February 18, 2011 « Alternative venue 'impractical' if Bahrain GP scrapped | »

The interminable battle of words over who has the right to call themselves Lotus resumed this week, and now Team Lotus has launched a stinging attack on Proton, the Malaysian car manufacturer which also claims it owns the name.

Yesterday Proton issued a statement claiming Fernandes was demanding up to $35 million to back down ahead of a court case on March 21. If the gloves were already off, now the dispute has become really nasty.

"The [Proton] statement contained a number of factual errors that are at best misleading and at worst straight lies," a statement from Team Lotus started. "It contains a number of points that are designed to paint a very negative picture of the shareholders and founders and to cloud the truth ahead of the court case."

It goes on to accuse Proton of making misleading statements regarding the amount being demanded. "What Proton fails to mention is that the vast majority of the compensation sought was to cover the loss of FOM revenue awarded to the team for their efforts on track in 2010. [We] asked Proton to indemnify against the potential loss of prize money from FOM which would have resulted from having to change its chassis name. The compensation sums being discussed, leaving aside the FOM revenue, were not overly generous, which is specifically why Proton has not included that in their statement yesterday.

Team Lotus co- founder SM Nasarudin did not mince his words either: "It's obviously disappointing to see Proton issue yet more downright lies ahead of the court case. It would appear that they are becoming desperate because they are now contradicting themselves in the public arena, for example now saying they would have allowed us to continue using the Lotus Racing name and that the alleged breaches of the trade mark licence were capable of remedy, and are trying whatever they can to force us to bend to their will. We have invested a considerable amount of time and our own personal money in Team Lotus and we are seeing the fruits of that investment begin to blossom on and off track."

Kamarudin Meranun added: " "We have put out own money into Team Lotus and have taken on all the risk ourselves. Our counterparts at Proton are using Malaysian tax payers' money to take a massive corporate gamble on the future of Group Lotus.

"With their unlawful termination of our contract and their ongoing harassment of us in the public arena Proton is asking us to incur substantial losses and step away from our investment meekly and without a fight. I hope CEO Syed would do the same and be accountable for his actions in front of the nation if his overly ambitious plan for Group Lotus fails."

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