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Haas F1 Sponsor Rich Energy Denied Appeal After Losing Logo Case

Alanis King Jun 29, 2019. 19 comments

Rich Energy, the enigmatic sponsor of the Haas Formula One team, got taken to court over its logo recently and lost. The energy-drink maker said afterward that it was looking forward to returning to court so the “truth” could “emerge,” but Rich Energy was just denied its request for an appeal.

The official denial of Rich Energy’s request to appeal the copyright judgement from May, reported first by FormulaSpy, was sent to Jalopnik on Friday by Whyte Bikes, the company that took Rich Energy to court. That’s in addition to multiple other rulings, including one that said Rich Energy must either deliver all of the products with the infringing logo to Whyte Bikes, destroy them, or change them to no longer be infringing.

The entire legal battle is over the stag-head images in the companies’ logos, which Whyte Bikes found to be strikingly similar to each other. Rich Energy has said its logo was “designed independently” of Whyte Bikes’ logo.

As a result of the original judgement, Whyte Bikes told Jalopnik it would seek an injunction for “the removal of the infringing copy of [its] logo from all Rich Energy’s branding, including but not limited to the Haas F1 cars.” Rich Energy soon removed the logo from the cars anyway, saying it wanted to avoid “any media circus for the team” amidst the “baseless case” against it.

But the companies made a scheduled return to court Thursday, in which Rich Energy’s appeal request was denied and more detailed orders were given. Here’s the list shared with Jalopnik by Whyte Bikes, highlights ours:

Rich Energy can still push an appeal through, as shown in the orders above, but has to apply for permission by July 18—the date for when it’s been ordered to stop using the logo.

Whyte Bikes has yet to comment on the orders to Jalopnik, but we’ll update this story if the company does. Jalopnik has also asked Rich Energy for comment on the decision and its plans, and will update this story if we hear back.

Rich Energy continues to be an enigma in F1, from its mysterious roots , to its strange tweets , to the financial documents showing that this F1 partner had 581 pounds in the bank in 2017. (Rich Energy CEO William Storey told Jalopnik those documents told an “irrelevant” part of the story, and more details are here.)

It’s all very odd, though, and the copyright case added to that—especially its scathing judgement , in which a judge found Rich Energy CEO William Storey’s evidence to be “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.”

The Haas team has generally stepped back in talking to media about the drama, declining to comment on the copyright judgement and telling Jalopnik that its “due diligence of potential partners is a confidential matter” when asked about its vetting of Rich Energy as a partner.

But there are a few things that stick out in the list of court orders, aside from the kill date of July 18 for its logo. Rich Energy will have do something about its cans and products with the logo by August, for one, and according to the orders, the company will have to disclose can sales to Whyte Bikes. That’s interesting, considering the back and forth from Rich Energy itself on sales.

The judge in the copyright case from May, for example, asked Storey about a press quote from February that said Rich Energy had produced 90 million cans. When asked about that number, the judgement said Storey responded with a statement about strangely empty 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 an interview earlier this year, Storey told instead Jalopnik Rich Energy had sold “over 100 million cans” and that the number was “growing rapidly by the day.” In that same interview, Storey said Rich Energy has “considerably in excess of eight figures in [its] bank account at any one time.”

Of course, even with the order that Rich Energy will have to disclose its sales of cans with the logos on them to Whyte Bikes, that information may never make it into the public forum. We’ll just have to see how it plays out, like most of the rest of the questions surrounding the company.

Update: Friday, June 28, 2019 at 5:18 p.m. ET: Storey responded to Jalopnik’s request for comment via email, writing that the latest hearing “involved the same judge,” and that Rich Energy is “pleased with developments in court and [is] looking forward to the denouement of process which is some way away.”

Update: Monday, July 1, 2019 at 1:59 p.m. ET: Whyte Bikes sent Jalopnik the official court order, which is mostly the same as above but in court speak. The interesting parts of it—including details about what we already knew, in light yellow, and new information, in dark yellow—are highlighted below.

The dark highlights are on a stipulation that says Rich Energy must provide Whyte Bikes with information involving its Haas F1 investments and payments, via the document, emphasis ours:

d. Figures showing:

i. Any sums of money invested in or made available to the First Defendant [Rich Energy], including for the avoidance of doubt sums invested in or made available to [Rich Energy] in connection with its sponsorship of the Haas F1 Team;

ii. Any sums of money invested by third parties in any other company or entity controlled by the Second Defendant [Storey] in connection with and/or pursuant to [Rich Energy]’s sponsorship of the Haas F1 Team;

iii. Full details of any sums of money paid or payable to the Haas F1 Team pursuant to the [Rich Energy]’s sponsorship of the Haas F1 Team, indicating in each case whether such sums were paid or payable by the [Rich Energy] or by any other entity;

Jalopnik has asked Whyte Bikes for details on these orders, such as whether the information will be made public depending on whether the case is taken to the Court of Appeal and the outcome there. We’ve also reached out to Rich Energy for comment on the more detailed orders, and will update this story if we hear back. (Rich Energy quickly responded, offering no further comment than what is in the update above.) 

Until then, the full court order is below.

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