Tony Fernandes has enjoyed most of the public sympathy in this mess So just who has the rightful claim on the Lotus name? The Dany Bahar-led Group Lotus operation has earned itself few friends along the way

The war of words continues between Proton and Team Lotus – will this ever end?

Group Lotus’ owner Proton has chimed in again with more inflammatory claims relating to the ongoing court case between its sport car brand and Tony Fernandes’ Team Lotus over the rights to use the ‘Lotus’ moniker.

The Malaysian-owned carmaker claims it is willing to negotiate an out-of-court settlement with Fernandes, the team boss and owner of the 1Malaysia company that calls itself ‘Team Lotus’, but it has ruled out caving into what it claims are Fernandes’ currently financial demands to settle the matter.

The entire case stems from Group Lotus withdrawing its five-year license with Fernandes to use their name in his team name. Fernandes instead went and purchased the rights to use the ‘Team Lotus’ name from David Hunt (being the name previously used by Lotus for the majority of its past racing activities, and an asset that Group Lotus had never bothered to purchase), while Group Lotus entered a title sponsorship deal with the Renault F1 team, leaving prospect of two teams calling themselves ‘Lotus Renault’ in 2011.

The matter has since escalated to London’s High Court, where the presiding judge, Justice Peter Smith, told both parties it would be in the interest of all concerned to get the matters sorted out as quickly as possible.

Fernandes had fired an early salvo by claiming that he had recently been offered less than US$10 million to settle the matter, a figure he rejected on the grounds that this would not cover the losses of income from merchandise and sponsorship stemming from a change of name, as well as the associated costs to develop and rebrand his team.

Proton has since returned fire by claiming that Fernandes is demanding a figure between US$35 million and US$37 million to settle the matter, with the fee including the sale of the ‘Team Lotus’ name as well as covering the associated issues outlined above.

Proton has declared that it is only willing to pay for the ‘Team Lotus’ name, hence its comparatively lower figure on the table.

“For all intent and purposes, 1MRT cannot now demand for us to compensate them for a problem which they got themselves into,” a Proton statement reads, while adding that it was still open to “reasonable and justified proposals” to settle the matter.

Interesting comments indeed…

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.