Whyte Bikes Win Legal Battle Against Haas F1 Team's Title Sponsor, Rich Energy

May 14, 2019 at 7:06
by James Smurthwaite  
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Whyte Bikes are today celebrating a legal victory over the title sponsor of the Haas F1 team, Rich Energy, over copyright infringement of their stag logo.

Rich Energy, a UK based energy drinks company, rose to prominence when they unsuccessfully attempted to buy the failing Force India F1 team late last year and were then announced as the title sponsor of Haas. They have already faced scrutiny within the F1 community given sparse physical evidence of any product existing on shelves in the UK despite apparently being backed by "four sterling billionaires". Both companies use a minimalist stag logo which can be seen below:

The two logos, taken from the court judgement. L: Whyte, R: Rich Energy.

When Whyte's parent company, ATB Sales, noticed a striking similarity between the two logos they launched a copyright claim, which went to to trial in the UK High Court in March. The judgement was released today and it has found in favour of ATB.

Judge Melissa Clarke found that both Mr Kelly and Mr Storey, representing defendants Staxoweb and Rich Energy, had deliberately misled the court by claiming they were not aware of Whyte's logo. She continued by saying they deliberately copied the Hastings-based brand's stag design.

Judge 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.

"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.

"I am satisfied on the balance of probabilities that both Mr Kelly and Mr Storey have lied about not being familiar with [Whyte’s logo]. I find it more likely than not that they were familiar with it, and that they directly and knowingly copied [it].”

The result is that Rich Energy’s logo has been found to infringe the copyright in the Whyte logo, entitling ATB to an injunction, which could include the removal of the logo on the F1 team car, and damages, or an account of Rich Energy’s profits. Rich Energy are entitled to appeal, with matters being adjourned until a hearing on June 27.


PRESS RELEASE: Whyte Bikes

‘We only use the finest ingredients’ boasts the Rich Energy website. Unfortunately, until now, those ingredients have included an un-authorised copy of the Whyte Bikes’ Stag’s Head Logo, used without permission and against the wishes of the Hastings based cycle brand.

The Judgment from March’s court case between ATB Sales Ltd (the owner of Whyte Bikes) and William Storey (the CEO of Rich Energy), StaxoWeb Ltd (the originator of the infringing Rich Energy logo), and Rich Energy Ltd has today been handed down by Judge Melissa Clarke.

Her Honour found that both Kelly and Storey, representing Defendants Staxoweb and Rich Energy had lied and deliberately misled the court, and that they directly and knowingly copied Whyte Bikes’ logo.

Judge 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.” “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.” Also, “I am satisfied on the balance of probabilities that both Mr Kelly and Mr Storey have lied about not being familiar with C’s Device (Whyte’s logo). I find it more likely than not that they were familiar with it, and that they directly and knowingly copied C’s Device in designing D1’s Device (Rich Energy’s logo).”

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.

As can be seen, the similarity between the logos is staggering...


Read the full court findings here.

Update

Rich Energy have released the following statement:

"Today the judgment was released in the claim brought by Whyte Bikes against us in respect of our stag logo. We are disappointed with the judgment & the findings of the judge which run counter to our submissions. We are considering all of our legal options including appeal."


153 Comments

  • + 391
 Whyte bikes said the resemblance was "staggering".
  • + 265
 On hearing they had lost the case, Rich Energy’s lawyers were quoted as saying “oh deer”
  • + 194
 They should have to pay Whyte a bunch of doe for this mistake.
  • + 199
 @NoahColorado: A few bucks ought to cover it.
  • + 28
 Whyte should hoof right over and collect their judgement.
  • - 22
flag dglobulator (May 14, 2019 at 8:59) (Below Threshold)
 @ReddyKilowatt: I bet they feel a bit sheep-ish, shit, wait, that's not right is it? Stupid game anyway!
  • - 21
flag Boardlife69 (May 14, 2019 at 9:17) (Below Threshold)
 They lost their hides in this case. They might even have to sell their fur-rari.
  • + 6
 I only read pink bike for the puns - carry on.
  • + 45
 A bit of fawning from Rich Energy woulda helped their case.
  • + 15
 @cuban-b: RE may find themselves in a rut, hunting for doe..
  • + 10
 @DarrellW I hope Whyte stays out of the rut in September
  • + 25
 Sounds like Whyte's attorneys were success were successful in their two-pronged approach.
  • + 6
 Serves the right, these billionaires have no Hart!
  • - 2
 @rivercitycycles: Steals "rut" pun and gets all the upvotes. Smile haha
  • + 1
 Them. Shakes head.
  • + 0
 Judge Clarke did a good job favoring with Whyte based on where the evidence pointed.
  • + 15
 Rich Energy was found guilty on all 4 points
  • + 1
 Normally hate the pun chains taking over comment threads, but the first 4 in this chain genuinely made me laugh
  • + 4
 @gabriel-mission9: Like Bambi's mum, it began life gloriously but now needs to be put out of its misery.
  • + 7
 you can’t argue with facts!! There it is in black and whyte
  • + 10
 Rich Energy's Logo just got caught in the headlights.
  • + 2
 Could have fixed the issue with buckshot
  • + 2
 This ought to endeer Whyte to the public. Very behoofing judgement.
  • + 12
 Logo theft? Classic Whyte crime.
  • + 1
 That logo is not very appealing.
  • - 1
 their defence was so out of control it was like watching Bambi on ice
  • + 1
 Doh!
  • + 4
 After paying compensation to Whyte, I think they will not be as Rich as before.
  • + 1
 Rack it up to greed!
  • + 103
 Everything about Rich Energy is shady as f*ck.
  • + 162
 Bearded hipster with no apparent product? He should move into the mtb industry
  • + 6
 It's like BDE but with out the BD.
  • + 123
 @scottishmark: so basically SICK bicycles?
  • - 36
flag f00bar (May 14, 2019 at 7:26) (Below Threshold)
 @scottishmark: we already have Unno bikes
  • + 4
 They’re just such a bizarre company. No one has worked them out.
  • + 27
 @f00bar: really?do you know who and what is behind the unno brand?...
  • + 15
 Hopefully their quest for F1 glory won't stagnate too much as a result of this court action.
  • - 5
flag endlessblockades (May 14, 2019 at 8:42) (Below Threshold)
 @sq225917: +1
  • + 12
 Can't upvote this enough. How they convinced Hass to be the title sponsor is beyond me, and how stupid are Hass going to be to align themselves with these people.
  • + 6
 @matadorCE: Sing it 'money money money money...........mooooneeeyyy'
www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ll3uipTO-4A&ab_channel=IamMax
  • + 4
 @watchmen: But it seems like Rich Energy is nothing but a scam. Certainly wouldn't be the first or last F1 team to join up with scam companies and then run into funding trouble later on.
  • + 32
 A hipster Energy drink, I would love to see that... sweetened with organic Stevia, caffeine from coffee brewed from single origin beans picked by students of environmental sciences harvested by full moon. Headquarters in Soho. Come on guys, time to give Red Bull some credit.
  • + 3
 @WAKIdesigns: Well it would probably have a better flavour than Red Bull and cost 4 times as much
  • + 10
 @WAKIdesigns:

Sounds like our Guayaki Yerba Mate drink here in the states. I have long proposed a new flavor to go with their Enlighten Mint: Embarrass Mint.
  • + 1
 @xy9ine: Nice piece, it answers some questions but it's still shady. Usually when someone acts so secretly it's later found something wasn't clean.
  • + 11
 @vid1998: Totally shady! Rich Energy appears to be a UK registered money-laundering operation for a croatian kleptocrat. It's a pretty common thing in Moneyland.
  • + 2
 @adrennan: "so basically SICK bicycles?"

Too soon!

But really, what a couple of twats. Turns out them being c*nts wasn't an act!
  • + 6
 Hilarious. "Well, that's rich.", one might even say. Feigned shock&horror from the general populace...but really, who gives a shit and why? Then we have the other teams crying foul.....like their money is so clean. f*ckin hypocrites. There isn't a billion dollars earned on this planet without it having left a wake of human toll booths filled to their brims with souls.
  • + 2
 @endlessblockades: Harass Mint? Like Juice bomb Gaza?
  • + 2
 @endlessblockades: totally thought this, bit like modern art, people are seriously paying millions for some crappy dot and scribble on a wall!? Money laundering & backhanders in plain sight, the rich know the poor are soo stupid
  • - 4
flag Therealbikehub (May 14, 2019 at 15:19) (Below Threshold)
 YT?
  • + 2
 @endlessblockades: You can find Yerbamate everywhere around here though. This Rich Energy apparently doesn't even have a real product, or it doesn't seem to be for sale anywhere.
  • + 1
 read this:

forums.autosport.com/topic/211627-what-is-rich-energy/page-29#entry8674259

Blew my mind, all about the back ground of them all etc long read but interesting read...defiantly a worm whole once you delve
  • + 1
 read this:

forums.autosport.com/topic/211627-what-is-rich-energy/page-29#entry8674259

Blew my mind, all about the back ground of them all etc long read but interesting read...defiantly a worm whole once you delve
  • + 1
 @endlessblockades: I love the berry flavoured one. I would drink it regularly if it didn't cost almost as much as a beer.
  • + 2
 @londonladliam: you can say that again.
  • + 2
 @xy9ine: Read a few other articles on there also, wow. Never realized F1 was such a corrupt shitshow.
  • + 57
 Whyte can tell them to shove it up their Haas.
  • + 48
 Probably best to have the person representing you have a little more knowledge in the subject. Last I check Mr. Kelly's legal expertise are in bird law.
  • + 17
 bird law in this country—it's not governed by reason.
  • + 1
 @LucWicklund bravo. excellent work here.
  • + 2
 Mr. Kelly’s hands are way too small as well.
  • + 34
 Oh you mean you can't trust billionaires? I'm shocked.
  • + 57
 That...and we should trust people *claiming* to be billionaires even less....
  • + 9
 @Sardine: trying not to make political comments on PB, but you make it difficult...
  • + 9
 @Sardine: oh! I see what you did there
  • + 7
 If you decide who you trust based solely on their bank account you're doing it wrong. I get it. Judging people by the content of their character on an individual basis regardless of their net worth won't get you props on pinkbike.
  • + 7
 We here on pinkbike judge people not upon the size of their bank balance, but on the size of their wheels.
  • + 24
 Maybe they can make Whyte Bikes the title sponsor of the HAAS team, then they can just adjust the logo to what it should be. HA, a mtn bike company as the title sponsor of an F1 team, that would be amazing.
  • + 4
 @tonestar As cool as that would be, Whyte might need a couple billion more dollars. Kinda how it goes in the top racing sport in the world.
  • + 8
 Jon Whyte did design F1 suspensions back in the day
  • + 0
 I thought Red Bull was a mountainbike company. They do a lot of mountainbike stuff. But they also seem to sponsor two teams in F1 car racing and they even have their own drinks now.

Just leave me in my bubble, ok?
  • + 3
 @ADGproductions: I do know that of course, the joke was, as a settlement they could be the sponsor, the irony of a piddly little mtn bike company (almost all bike brands would be piddly in this context) sponsoring an F1 team worth billions of dollars was supposed to make you laugh.
  • + 16
 apropos of nothing

Jon Whyte started out as an F1 suspension designer for Benetton helping Schumacher to his first title

He designed the quadlink for Marin, the ghastly PRST-1 & the 1st full suss XC bike to win the national championships

questadventure.wordpress.com/2016/02/10/who-are-whyte-bikes
  • + 4
 the PRST-1 was a work of art, you wash your mouth out
  • + 15
 Sounds like the same dick heads that did "Sick" bikes bro.
  • + 10
 I took a few minutes to look into this guy William Storey and it reads very odd. They took 6 years to develop the product, then bought a 50 million pound factory. Williams Linkedin profile lists only two jobs, CEO of Rich Energy and owner of a Sports Agent company with a terrible one page website. This agency was founded 2010, so one year AFTER he started developing the energy drink. This Rich Energy somehow manage to have enough money for R&D for 6 years then bought a factory, something start-ups don't often do, and still had enough money/leverage to buy it's way into F1 after only 6 years in the already saturated market of energy drinks.

I understand they have Billionaire backing, but it read as very odd, no history for this man prior to 2009 that I can find in a quick check, and he studied in University as a mathematician?
  • + 4
 Very valid point. I had never heard or seen of Rich Energy products anywhere until they got involved in F1. It amazed me that some unknown drinks brand had enough money to put a bid in the buy Force India, when that fell through they sponsored Haas!! All seems a bit wierd.
  • + 1
 @Matt76: they're in my local newsagents..... I should point out that this is in Richmond where Rich Energy are based and named after (according to the local paper)
  • + 3
 @themop: @Matt76 I did a bit more digging and want to continue with more research to confirm a couple of things I found, but the deeper you go the dodgier they look, more to follow!
  • + 1
 another odd point is that the shop link on their website goes to amazon which only has 7 reviews
  • + 1
 @Bomadics: @themop Its very strange. If you have a good look at Rich Energy's accounts on Companies House they certainly do not look like a company who can afford to sponsor an F1 team let alone bid to buy one. Rumor has it they have the backing of a billionaire.
  • + 1
 @Matt76: how do you make a small fortune? Start with a big one.....
  • + 2
 Regarding Rich Energy vs Red Bull - coming from the mouth of Storey:

"Obviously from a marketing perspective we’re very pleased, we’ve got a wonderful product and a wonderful brand."
"We’re expanding very quickly, we’re taking a huge amount of business from them. Some of the biggest drinks distributors in Europe are de-listing Red Bull now."

What else could it be other than a laundering scheme?... It's intriguing, but screams BS from every direction.
  • + 1
 @Matt76: Jesus... Its worse than I thought.
  • + 2
 It just gets better and better. This guy is full of it!! Watch below;

youtu.be/n31uqHOOj7E
  • + 9
 Maybe Rich Energy thought no one would notice the ripped off Whyte logo due to being distracted by the blatantly copied John Player Special livery Team Lotus ran in F1 from 1972 to 1986.
  • + 2
 I had also noticed this. I wonder if they have already run out of things to copy. Logo, livery, what's next ? aero design ? engine ? motto ?
  • + 7
 Good - William Storey is shady f'n character. Sorry for the team as they are a good bunch of people. Not to mention our only American F1 representation.
  • + 9
 This sounds surprisingly similar to Fyre..
  • + 12
 FYRE II Concert Festival sponsored by Rich Energy drinks... Where you can drive retro DeLoreans on a uninhabited island. Pre-payment via BitCoin required!!!
  • + 1
 But you can buy the drink. They're in my local newsagents..... In Richmond, where Rich Energy are based....
  • + 4
 Winning is half the battle. Collecting on your judgment can be the hardest part. Given how little is known about Rich Energy it seems like Whyte Bikes might be in for a challenge.

jalopnik.com/what-you-find-when-you-look-into-rich-energy-the-myste-1833303620?utm_medium=sharefromsite&utm_source=jalopnik_copy&utm_campaign=top
  • + 6
 Lucky for Rich Energy they've only actually printed their logo on two F1 cars , two helmets and two racing suits.... not too much to have to change!
  • + 5
 Why would you copy a logo that looks like that when it could get you sued? It doesnt even seem like a difficult logo to make. Just draw some lines in a symmetrical pattern and call it good.
  • + 5
 I remember commenting on a photo of the Haas F1 car when it was first shown on Facebook saying they had ripped off the Whyte logo, good on Whyte for fighting it.
  • + 6
 Only in Europe could the poor guys win...
  • + 1
 Wyte has "S" in some of their bike models, some of their frames kind of resemble the "S" one's, and they sued someone...strange things are a foot at the Circle K.
Seriously though, good for Wyte Bikes. .They deserved that win.
  • + 1
 I suppose taking the logo off StaxoWeb’s front page could be interpreted as an admission of guilt, so maybe they feel obliged to keep it there until after any appeal?. It’s number 3 in the “Who we work with” section at time of writing : staxoweb.com
  • + 1
 It's funny how a company name Rich is getting sued. Also, it wasn't so long ago that Robby Gordon's energy drink company was sued by Specialized when he used their "s" logo for his brand.
  • + 4
 Does anybody haas any idea what's happening here?
  • + 4
 All this time I seriously thought Rich Energy was a utilities company.
  • + 2
 to steal a logo and place it on one of the biggest marketing platforms in the world ... sounds a bit daft to me
  • + 1
 Free exposure for a company Ive never heard of or seen their products in the shops. Yes I did google them after reading this.
  • + 1
 So if you google for Bird Zero (UK based - one of the coolest hardtails ever) you will find these guys from CA:
www.bird.co/zero

...electric scooters
  • + 1
 In a rare instance when PB and Jalopnik zero in on related content : jalopnik.com/haas-f1s-main-sponsor-went-to-court-over-its-logo-and-t-1834753571
  • + 2
 Anyone remember Rocky Roadz?
  • + 1
 ** Shelves plans for his You Tangy! drinks empire - nowhere to put the garish can on the bike anyway **
  • + 1
 Money laundering + narcissism + interest in auto racing + corrupt racing organization = Fake F1 team.
  • - 1
 Its such a bogus logo in the first place, looks like a cheap condom brand, I can't understand why anyone would want to use it in the first place, plus Whyte bikes suck. the end.
  • + 1
 It's refreshing to see a judge do smart, judge things and call bullshit on the scummy Rich energy thievery.
  • + 1
 You'd need to sponsor and supply me with energy drinks to watch a f1 "race"
  • + 5
 F1: "Three changes of race leader! What a race!"
MotoGP: "Three changes of race leader! What a corner!"
  • + 2
 “But we added two extra pointy things to make ours unique!”
  • + 1
 Lmao idiots lol how could Rich Energy say they didn’t know they copied it !!!!
  • + 1
 @aps62:

All I know is now I want a second series of F1 drive to survive and a nice cold redbull.
  • + 1
 I wonder when CUBE Bikes is taking action against this mexican low quality brand:
www.charly.com
  • + 0
 Reminds me more than a little of Rockstar Energy drink ripping off my original 'Rockstar Racing'logo back in '98. We started worlds best dh tops down here in Nz in '96.
  • + 1
 I think Sick Bicycle Co. Is behind Rich Energy
  • + 1
 One of those rare cases when the one with the most points loses...
  • + 1
 In other news, Rich Energy releases a new flavor called Lyme. Tic toc
  • + 1
 Drink water. Ride your bike.
  • + 1
 They should just use Blue Balls Racing as a brand instead
  • + 1
 This!! Gets my Article of the year nomination
  • - 1
 lol, when I copied the Monster energy logo I really never saw them before...wow thatl work in court
  • + 1
 They're crazy man.
  • + 1
 Lewis Black: "You've lost your damn mind"
  • + 1
 PB comments for the win
  • + 0
 Haas is a non-profit team.. sad to see these types of news
  • + 0
 I's a safe bet to say all F1 teams are non-profit, the £/$ Millions it costs to keep a team running, the sponsorship just about covers it.
  • + 0
 They might be non profit, but there is a big cost to pay for auto racing: The environment.
  • + 1
 @Flowcheckers: The pro golf tour is worse.
  • + 1
 @Flowcheckers: on the other hand, racing brings technological advances that make cars more eco friendly. That said, technological advances are hugely wasteful
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