Name doubts over 'F1'

Max Mosley's assertion that "the difference between Bernie and the GPWC is that Bernie has the F1 brand" has been called into question following comments made by a Patent Office spokesman yesterday.

Name doubts over 'F1'

While it has long been assumed that ownership of variations on the term Formula One is controlled by a number of companies controlled by a holding company, SLEC, owned by a group of three banks and Bernie Ecclestone's family trust, this belief has been called into question by the remarks, given to The Daily Telegraph.

Dr Jeremy Philpott, spokesman for the Patent Office, noted that Formula 1 refers to "a type of motor sport, rather than applying to goods or services coming from a specific individual or legal entity." With the term also used for triathlon and power boat events he noted that "the marks are in common parlance, and insufficiently associated with a single provider of goods and services, [which] may act as a problem for registration."

Trademark records have revealed that Formula One Licensing (FOL), SLEC's intellectual property division, has no pan-European registrations for the terms 'Formula One', 'F1' or 'Formula 1' in the category covering sporting and cultural events, and Philpott suggested that either Ecclestone or the GPWC would be entitled to use the terms in any future series featuring cars in this category.

The commercial rights that SLEC controls are specific to 'The FIA Formula One World Championship' - the company bought these rights for 100 years in 2000 from the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) for $360m. This championship is governed by terms agreed between Ecclestone and the teams and laid down as the Concorde Agreement, which is due to expire on December 31, 2007.

Philpott also suggested that SLEC's rights regarding its registered logos are "very enforceable", although registration of a logo does not infer any rights on the text therein. A spokesman for the GPWC noted: "the GPWC is not excluding the possibility of using the Formula One name" in any future motor racing series.

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