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Lotus Battle Heads to Court In March

A High Court judge has set March 21st as the trial date for the ongoing Lotus naming dispute, which means two teams will line-up on the grid at the start of the season using the historic name. Group Lotus had applied for a summary judgement on Monday, which focused on their decision to withdraw Team Lotus' naming rights. Group Lotus had hoped that their side of the argument would be so conclusive that a decision would be made immediately. However, the judge has ruled that the dispute will be settled at a hearing at London's High Court in eight weeks time, the earliest possible date both sides could agree on. The full trial on the 21st will not only deal with Group Lotus' decision to withdraw Team Lotus' naming rights, but also with further issues including a breach of contract and Group Lotus' use of Lotus' F1 history, which Team Lotus' says it owns. The whole dispute stems from Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar's decision to end his company's naming rights deal with Team Lotus and sponsor a more established team instead. This prompted Team Lotus Boss, Tony Fernandes to buy the naming rights to the original Team Lotus, which had been dormant since 1994 and were owned by David Hunt. However, Group Lotus believes it has the sole right to use the Lotus brand in Formula One, while Fernandes is confident he has bought the separate Team Lotus brand from Hunt. In a press release from Team Lotus after the Summary Judgment Application hearing on Monday, the team expressed their delight in the judges decision saying: 'Team Lotus is delighted that we were successful at the Summary Judgment Application hearing today and that the Judge threw out Group Lotus' application even before hearing the arguments of the barristers on either side.' 'Although this decision was never in doubt, it means that we start the 2011 season under the Team Lotus name. Whilst we expected that the Judge would refuse this application, it is good to have the decision in black and white.' 'We remain confident that we will succeed at the full trial and we can now focus on the challenges ahead in the 2011 FIA Formula One™ World Championship.' Although, due to the complexities of the case it is difficult to predict when a final decision will be reached, and if there are grounds for appeal it is almost certain the dispute will continue.

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