Interesting observations made by a judge sitting in the Whyte Bikes versus Rich Energy copyright case have emerged about the Haas title sponsor who have been ordered to change their stag logo which was deemed copied from the logo used by the bicycle manufacturer.
In the dock for copying the logo were “the Second Defendant, Mr William Storey, the director and sole
shareholder of the First Defendant [Rich Energy]. The Third Defendant, Staxoweb Limited,
is a digital marketing company founded by Mr Sean Kelly, who is a childhood friend of Mr Storey.”
Judge Melissa Clarke summed up her findings on Tuesday, “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 stag logo appears on the cockpit, halo and front wing endplates of the Haas VF19 as part of Rich Energy’s title sponsorship of the American team.
She added, “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.”
In section 33 of her final judgement, the Judge made some telling observations regarding Storey and Rich Energy, “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.”
To put this into perspective, Red Bull sold 6.8-billion cans of their fizzy drinks in 2018, which amounted to €5.541 billion in turnover for the organisation that fields two teams in Formula 1.
If Rich Energy sold 3-million cans as Storey claimed, at €2.00 per can, that’s €6-million income for the start-up but in reality a pittance in a sport which gobbles up money like a vacuum cleaner on steroids.
Red Bull sells 3-million cans every four hours, every day of the year…
Inevitably many questions arise, including:
- How much are Rich Energy paying Haas for title sponsorhip?
- Where is Rich Energy finding the money to pay Haas?
- Are Haas actually getting paid by Rich Energy?
- Where is the warehouse with the 90-million empty Rich Energy cans?
- You [reader] ask away in the comments below.
Judge Clarke continued, “In another example, he stated in an impassioned fashion that he was “not in the business of trying to create a world-class business by taking any inspiration from anybody else whatsoever”, but his own written evidence was that his starting point when thinking about developing a logo was to carry out logo research on High Court Approved Judgment: ATB Sales Limited v Rich Energy Limited and Ors what other drinks companies were doing, and to carrying out internet searches on stag head logos used by other companies.”
“For reasons which I set out below, 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,” concluded the Judge.
In the wake of the judgement, Whyte Bikes released a statement which included: “The result is that Rich Energy’s logo has been held to infringe the copyright in the Whyte logo, entitling ATB to an injunction and damages or an account of Rich Energy’s profits.”
“Whilst the Rich Energy drink has proved almost impossible to find or purchase the visibility of the Rich Energy brand has recently increased, coming to the attention of F1 viewers as a result of their sponsorship of the Rich Energy Haas F1 Team, whose cars both feature multiple applications of the copied Whyte Bikes logo.”