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JANUARY 24, 2011

Lotus F1 naming dispute set for full trial

The High Court in London decided on Monday that the dispute over the use of the Lotus name in F1 racing will go to a full trial starting on 21 March. Car company Group Lotus and F1's Team Lotus are quarreling over the use of the Lotus name.

Mr Justice Peter Smith ruled that the case needed to be resolved quickly, as the dispute has been going on for too long. He has ordered that the case go to a full trial. Initially he said the case should be heard before he start of the season on 13 March, but the two sides then agreed to the later date.

The case consists of a number of issues that include licensing of the Lotus name, intellectual property, branding and ownership of history and legacy. The hearing today involved Group Lotus's decision to terminate the five-year licensing agreement for Tony Fernandes's 1Malaysia company to use the Lotus name in F1 when the team entered last season. Group Lotus had asked for a summary judgement, but the judge decided that the trial should cover all the pending cases, in order to resolve all the outstanding issues at once.

The two sides can still reach a settlement out of court before the trial begins, but it is likely that the naming row will still be an issue as the F1 season starts.