MAY 3, 2006
An interesting case in Australia
The Australian Grand Prix Corporation has moved to end its naming dispute with A1 Grand Prix. Lawyers representing the AGPC and A1 have been meeting in Melbourne to try to settle the disagreement out of court. Last autumn the Grand Prix Corporation launched an action in London objecting to the use of the description "A1 Grand Prix", claiming that it infringes the corporation's intellectual property rights. Nothing more was heard of the dispute and the A1 race in Australia went ahead without hindrance.
The A1 authorities are now pushing for a resolution and A1GP chief executive David Clare has been in Melbourne in recent days trying to get a ruling in a process of mediation. A1 is confident that it will win any case but wants the matter resolved.
The term Grand Prix has long been considered to be a generic term not only because it is used in a wide variety of different events and sports - and many different kinds of automobile and motorcycle racing - but also because the title pre-dates the automobile by nearly 200 years. The first recognised use of the term "Grand Prix" was in the late seventeenth century in France when it was applied to a competition for artists. This was so successful that there followed a number of Grands Prix for maths, architecture and sciences. The first use of the term in sport was in 1805 when a horse race in Paris was named the Grand Prix. The name popped up regularly thereafter in horse racing, notably in Paris and Pau and the first use of the term in relation to automobiles was not until 1901 when organisers of a car event in Pau borrowed the name from the horse race. The Automobile Club de France then decided to name its big 1906 event the Grand Prix de l'Automobile Club de France and this is now viewed as the first major motorsport event and the birthplace of Grand Prix racing. It is worth noting that several other F1 Grands Prix have trademarked their own names, in addition to Australia, notably France which owns the right to the term "Grand Prix de France".
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