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Haas likely to re-brand as Rich Energy loses logo court battle (Updated)

NEWS STORY
14/05/2019

The Haas F1 team will need to carry out an expensive re-brand after title sponsor Rich Energy lost a high court battle over its logo.

The action was initiated by British cycle manufacturer Whyte Bikes which claimed that the Rich Energy logo was a blatant copy and sought "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 case, which was heard in the High Court in London in March, saw judgement released today, with Judge Melissa Clarke ruling in Whyte's favour.

Clearly unimpressed with Rich Energy CEO William Storey's defence, and that of graphic design company StaxoWeb Ltd's boss, Sean Kelly, the judge stated that it was her belief that evidence had been "manufactured" by the pair.

"I am satisfied that some of Mr Storey's evidence was incorrect or misleading," she said, "and that he was involved in the manufacture of documents during the course of litigation to provide additional support for the defendants' case.

"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. Wherever possible, I look for corroboration from other credible and reliable evidence or the inherent probabilities.

"Mr Storey provided different and inconsistent accounts of the development of D1's Device, which also conflicted to a large extent with the evidence of Mr Kelly. He often did not answer questions directly, preferring to make speeches about his vision for his business or alternatively seeking to evade questions by speaking in generalities or in the third person plural. He only answered several questions when I intervened. He had a tendency to make impressive statements, which on further investigation or consideration were not quite what they seemed.

"For example, when Mr Wyand in cross-examination tried to understand his evidence about the sales figures of Rich Energy drinks, and put to him that he had been quoted in the press in February 2019 as saying that the First Defendant had produced 90 million cans, Mr Storey explained that it had produced 90 million cans, but had not yet filled and sold them. He said he would have to check the figures, but in 2018 he thought the First Defendant had filled and sold "circa 3 million cans" of Rich Energy drink.

"In fact, as Mr Storey acknowledged in his witness statement and accepted in cross-examination, the name "Rich Energy" was selected by the Croatian creator of the energy drink formula, Drazen Majstrovic in 2013, when Mr Majstrovic founded a Croatian company, Rich Energy C.O.O, to market his new drink.

"Mr Storey had no formal involvement with the brand until 2015. Accordingly the name of the drink was not selected by him to reflect his associations with Richmond, Surrey, as pleaded. By the time of his witness statement, Mr Storey's evidence was that he was from Richmond, Surrey and the connection between the word 'Rich' and 'Richmond' was why he kept the name Rich Energy, albeit not why it was originally chosen.

Referring to a 50,000 invoice the was said to have been submitted to Rich Energy for the logo design, Judge Clark said: "I have also considered, but do not accept, Mr St Quintin's submission that the Third Defendant's invoice of 50,000 is inconsistent with copying.

"First, both Mr Kelly and Mr Storey say that sum encompassed not only brand development but also a wider marketing strategy including developing, launching and maintaining the Rich Energy website. It does not all relate to logo design.

"Secondly, question marks remain in my mind about that invoice, which contains the Third Defendant's VAT number on the top but does not include VAT. Mr Kelly was asked why this was, and confirmed that his company was registered for VAT at the time, but had no answer to give.

"Thirdly, Mr Storey's evidence about whether he had paid the invoice was characteristically somewhat evasive. He said: "It was settled, so, yes, it was settled… Sean and I do a lot of business together in terms of I have had different IT businesses and sports management companies that he does web development for and design so, yes, it was settled… yes, it was settled, yes, it was paid… I cannot recall exactly, but I know that it was paid". No supporting documentary evidence of payment, in the form of bank statements, for example, has been disclosed.

In conclusion, Rich Energy's logo has been found to infringe the copyright in the Whyte logo, thereby entitling Whyte's parent company, ATB to an injunction, which could will likely mean the removal of the logo on the Haas cars, and damages, or (ahem) a share of Rich Energy's profits.

Rich Energy is allowed to appeal, and with that in mind the case is adjourned until a hearing on June 27.

Aside from those costs, Rich Energy will most likely now need to change the logo on the millions of cans of its energy drink that it sells, while Haas is almost certain to have to change the logo on its cars, driver overalls, transporters, motorhome...

Check out our Tuesday gallery from Barcelona, here.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Speedbump, 15/05/2019 21:22

"The obvious and simple solution for Haas, would be to ditch Rich Energy and sue them for misrepresentation, and sign a deal with Whyte instead. They already have their logo on everything after all. ;O)"

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2. Posted by The edge, 15/05/2019 20:29

"I bet it will be easier to change the logo on the car & kit etc. Than it will be on those 90,000,000 cans they are yet to fill😂"

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3. Posted by Editor, 15/05/2019 16:04

"@ Spartacus

There's no question of changing sponsors... it's about Haas having to remove the stag logo from everything.

That said, regulars will know that we've had our doubts about Rich Energy from Day 1, and the judge's comments merely reinforce those doubts, confirming what we'd been told by a number of insiders but were unable to publish for legal reasons."

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4. Posted by Spartacus, 15/05/2019 15:59

"The logo does look like a total copy with the addition of two little horns. Amazing the VAT with the third defendant was mentioned. It's too bad that Haas will have to secure another sponsor if the FIA will allow the change during the season. I don't see a reason that should not be allowed and I am sure there is a complete section within the extensive FIA rule book about changing sponsors. This should be an exception."

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5. Posted by English Tony, 15/05/2019 9:54

"So now Gene knows why nobody else in the paddock would touch Rich Energy "

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6. Posted by Max Noble, 14/05/2019 22:55

"@rosscogeo - it would all depend on the nature of the sponsorship contract. A strong contract (for Hass) would include clauses for loss, liability, damage etc. that could be triggered by this mess. A weak (for Hass) contract might not... either way, given the information above, I think the folk in charge at Rich energy would require quite some encouragement to front up, say sorry, and hand over large piles of rebranding cash..."

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7. Posted by Esteban, 14/05/2019 19:03 (moderated by an Adminstrator, 14/05/2019 19:06)

"This comment was removed by an administrator as it was judged to have broken the site's posting rules and etiquette."

Rating: Neutral (0)

8. Posted by meatball, 14/05/2019 17:09 (moderated by an Adminstrator, 14/05/2019 19:06)

"if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck...

I would be quite surprised if Rich is a sponsor for Haas or any F1 team next year. Further I could even see Rich falling off the 2019 Haas due to this basically bankrupting the company. Comparing Whyte and Rich's logos - they are completely identical save for one little "Point" on the antler."

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9. Posted by Motorsport-fan, 14/05/2019 15:55 (moderated by an Adminstrator, 14/05/2019 19:06)

""I do not accept either Mr Storey or Mr Kelly as credible or reliable witnesses"

You do get the feeling there is going to be a few more tales around Rich Energy going forward."

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10. Posted by bevlad, 14/05/2019 15:48

"I wouldnt take much to change the current logo into a halo and cockpit sides from above that still kind of looks like antlers. It'd be an easy paint job for Haas, and the logo on their cans would be a bit more associated back to F1."

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11. Posted by rosscogeo, 14/05/2019 14:42

"@maxnoble does rich energy have to pay hass for all the logo changes? "

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12. Posted by Max Noble, 14/05/2019 14:35

"Magenta Cow here we come..."

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