F1 team Haas faces car livery rejig after title sponsor loses copyright court case
Haas, the Formula 1 motor racing team founded in 2014 and backed by US motor racing tycoon Gene Haas, could face having to change its cars’ livery after the team’s title sponsor Rich Energy lost a copyright infringement court case against Whyte Bikes, a bicycle maker.
ATB Sales, the company that owns Whyte Bikes, had sought an injunction against Rich Energy, the UK-based energy drink brand that only secured Haas' title sponsorship rights last October, in the London Hight Court, that would require the company to remove its logo.
Whyte Bikes argued that the energy drink brand's livery, a stag's head, was essentially identical to a logo belonging to the cycle manufacturer that had been designed in 2008.
Judge Melissa Clarke found for Whyte Bikes, saying it was "more than likely" that Rich Energy lied about not being familiar with Whyte's logo, and that they "knowingly and frequently copied" it in designing their own logo.
On the company's official twitter feed, Rich Energy said it was "disappointed with the judgment and the findings of the judge which run counter to our submissions. We are considering all of our legal options including appeal."
William Storey, boss of Rich Energy, was found by the judge to be a “poor witness”, and the judge added that Storey “had a tendency to make impressive statements, which on further investigation or consideration were not quite what they seemed.”
Before taking on the Haas title sponsorship, the energy drink company had tried to buy fellow F1 side Force India (now called Racing Point), when the team went into administration last year.
However, despite producing a buyout bid that would have brought Force India £30 million ($38.4 million) in sponsorship, the bid was rejected by the High Court judge as being insufficient to secure the team’s future.
Haas’ primary source of funding up until the Rich Energy sponsorship had been its founders company Haas Automotion, and the team finished fifth in last year’s F1 Constructors Championship.
Other Haas sponsors include Pirelli, the Italian tyre manufacturer, and Jacks & Jones, the men's clothing designer.
Meanwhile, McLaren Racing, the outfit that competes in F1 and in the famous Indianapolis 500, has extended its partnership with Estrella Galicia 0,0, a non-alcoholic Spanish beer brand.
Estrella Galicia will now sponsor McLaren Racing at the this year's Indy500 in May.
The brand was appointed as a long-term McLaren partner in January this year, and this extension means the brand logo will be represented on the racesuit of McLaren's Spanish driver Fernando Alonso, along with the McLaren team apparel.
McLaren signed two similar deals last month, with Mission Foods, a flatbreads producer, and Go Smile, a teeth whitening technology, now both sponsoring the team at the Indy500, which will take place on 26 May.