Rich Energy, the title sponsor of the Haas Formula One team, has lost a trademark dispute in the UK courts with bicycle manufacturer Whyte Bikes.
The High Court case was based on the similarities of the logos of the two brands, with Whyte claiming Rich Energy’s stylised stag logo was “an un-authorised copy”.
Rich Energy — a UK-based energy drinks company — joined Haas as a title sponsor at the start of the year, boasting the hashtag “#BetterThanRedBull”. The deal saw the previously grey-coloured Haas car painted in the corporate colours of Rich Energy — black and gold — while carrying the stag logo on the nose, halo device and front wing endplates of the car.
At the launch of the car in February, Rich Energy CEO William Storey said: “We are looking forward to taking on Red Bull, on and off the track.”
The court case was heard in March before a judgement was handed down on Tuesday. It found Rich Energy’s logo infringed on the copyright of Whyte’s logo and entitles the bicycle company to an injunction and damages or an account of Rich Energy’s profits.
Judge Melissa Clarke said: “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.”
In response to the judgement, Rich Energy issued the following statement.
“Rich Energy are considering to appeal a decision to change their existing logo after a United Kingdom court ruling declared its need to change. The now well-known branding of Rich Energy has been under scrutiny since the brand launched itself as a title sponsor within the global platform of Formula One.
“With over a billion people now watching the Rich Energy brand, the potential requirement to change its logo will not change the company’s future programs. Whilst the initial judgement is disappointing, and only applies to the United Kingdom, Rich Energy will now focus on its strong sales growth and commitment to delivering its premium product to current and new markets.”
A further hearing is scheduled for June 27 in which Rich Energy will be given permission to appeal.
The Haas F1 team offered no further comment on the situation when contacted by ESPN.