Formula One sues Rolex 24 at Daytona-winning driver

His company is named in a trademark infringement suit.

Formula One sues Rolex 24 at Daytona-winning driver
#7 Starworks Motorsport Ford Riley: Jared Beyer, Jan Heylen, Scott Mayer, Doug Peterson, RJ Valentine
GT podium: class winners Andy Lally and RJ Valentine celebrate
#66 TRG Porsche GT3: Andy Lally, RJ Valentine
GT victory lane: class winners Jorg Bergmeister, Andy Lally, Patrick Long, Justin Marks and RJ Valentine celebrate with their team
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Few motorsports entities are more zealous about protecting their names and logos than Formula One, a point made in a 31-page lawsuit filed earlier this month.

Formula One World Championship Limited and Formula One Licensing BV filed suit in New Jersey seeking triple damages against 13 defendants including F1 New Jersey LLC, F1 Air Group LLC, F1 Long Island and F1 Boston. The only person named as a defendant is R.J. Valentine, the longtime sports car racer who co-drove to a class win at the 2009 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona (in photo above).

The complaint: That companies Valentine is involved with, ranging from kart tracks to racetrack hospitality to air logistics, are using the F1 name and logos similar to those owned by Formula One to promote products.

According to the suit: “Defendants’ unauthorized use of the Infringing F1 Marks in connection with their goods and services falsely suggests to their customers that their goods and services originate from or are otherwise sponsored, licensed or authorized by Formula One. Kart racing has become known to motorsports enthusiasts, the press, and the general public as a training ground for future F1 Championship drivers. Defendants exploit this fact by falsely suggesting that their F1 New Jersey, F1 Outdoor, F1 Boston, and F1 Long Island kart racing facilities are sanctioned by Formula One, when, in fact they are not.”

The web site F1Boston.com, for example, says the karting facility is managed by The MBA Group, which is named in the suit. “Richard J. Valentine, President/CEO of F1, is the founder of The MBA Group,” the site says. The lawsuit even complains that the restaurant at the Boston facility is named Ascari, “presumably after Alberto and Antonio Ascari, the famous father and son champion F1 drivers.” The suit also names the New Jersey Motorsports Park as a defendant.

'Irreparably harmed'

The suit also insists that: “Formula One has been and, without court intervention, will continue to be irreparably harmed by Defendants’ attempts to pass off their goods and services as Formula One’s goods and services.” Also: “Defendants’ infringing conduct is causing and is likely to cause substantial injury to the public and to Formula One. Formula One is entitled to injunctive relief, to recover its damages and Defendants’ profits, together trebled, and Formula One’s costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees.”

The suit was filed September 18 by the New York City firm of Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP.

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