Rich Energy, Haas F1’s new-for-2019 title sponsor, has lost a High Court case in the United Kingdom regarding the originality of its logo design.
UK-based Whyte Bikes brought the case against Rich Energy as it claimed the energy drinks company had copied its stag logo, which the bike manufacturer had created in December 2008.
Rich Energy CEO William Storey and his logo designer StaxoWeb Ltd (founded and represented by Sean Kelly) denied copyright infringement, saying their own logo was independently designed without reference to, or knowledge of, the Whyte Bikes design.
In the introduction to her decision, Her Honor Judge Melissa Clarke stated: “What is sought, amongst other things, is an injunction which would require the removal of the logo of the First Defendant, Rich Energy Limited, from the Formula 1 race car and website of the Rich Energy Haas Formula 1 motor racing team.”
The logo is currently on the front of the cockpit, halo and front wing endplates of the Haas car as part of Rich Energy’s title sponsorship of the team, while a stylized version of part of the logo appears on the engine cover.
Judge Clarke ruled that Rich Energy had produced an infringing copy of the Whyte Bikes logo, entitling Whyte to an injunction and damages or an account of Rich Energy’s profits.
“I am satisfied that some of Mr. Storey’s evidence was incorrect or misleading and that he was involved in the manufacture of documents during the course of litigation to provide additional support for the Defendants’ case,” Judge Clarke said.
“I do not accept either Mr. Storey or Mr. Kelly as credible or reliable witnesses. and I treat all of their evidence with a high degree of caution.”
“I am satisfied on the balance of probabilities that both Mr. Kelly and Mr. Storey have lied about not being familiar with C’s Device (Whyte’s logo). I find it more likely than not that they were familiar with it, and that they directly and knowingly copied C’s Device in designing D1’s Device (Rich Energy’s logo).”
As the decision was handed out in the absence of any of the parties involved, the judge adjourned issues relating to consequential matters and costs, including any application for permission to appeal, to a later hearing on June 27.
Following the announcement of the decision, Rich Energy tweeted: “Today the judgment was released in the claim brought by (Whyte Bikes) against us in respect of our stag logo. We are 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.”