Rich Energy describe themselves as "a premium and innovative British energy drink painstakingly developed and optimised over the last 6 years". Their logo appears to be the head of a stag-like figure; a logo that has become the centre of a legal issue for the company, but we will touch on that in a bit.
Question marks were raised during this past weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix when the logo for Rich Energy was mysteriously removed from the two Haas cars before the weekend began. Not too many people thought much of the removal, as hey-ho, it’s just a sponsor, and teams are forced to change the appearance of their cars all the time to suit the laws and requests of the country in which they’re racing. Take Bahrain and Abu Dhabi for example; teams with alcohol sponsorship are required to remove the logos and distinguishing colours from the cars and team kit in order to comply with the laws of their country.
However, Canada is a progressive country and no such restrictions apply. So why would an energy drink company be requiring the F1 team of which they are a title sponsor, to remove their logos?
Enter Whyte Bikes.
On the 14th of May, Whyte Bikes successfully sued Rich Energy for the illicit use of their trademarked logo. Poorly adapted to look ever so slightly different, but none-the-less, a clear case of plagiarism, as can be seen in the picture below. Oh, and in case you were wondering, Whyte Bikes has been around since 1999. So they have 20 years of copyright on Rich Energy.
What’s interesting here, aside from the fact that they blatantly stole from another company, is the Judge’s comments regarding the actions from none other than the CEO of Rich Energy, Mr. William Storey.
In other words, the CEO of Rich Energy lied and deliberately mislead the court and fabricated documentation in order to help his case. Clearly, the jury, and the judicial system in general were able to see through it, and Rich Energy subsequently lost the case, resulting in the removal of their rights to use the Whyte Bikes logo on the Haas Formula One cars. However they are seeking to appeal the ruling at a later date in court.“… 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.”
Okay, so a company lost a court case. It happens pretty regularly. But here’s where this gets interesting… Or hilarious, whichever way you want to look at it. Whyte Bikes enjoyed the win in court, and subsequently tweeted a photo of their company logo appearing in conjunction with the Mercedes F1 team on a large digital billboard, on the side of a building. Clearly this was a bit of a jab at Rich Energy.
Now, the person that Rich Energy has employed to run their social media accounts, namely their Twitter account, has started to sound more and more unhinged from reality, to the point of becoming borderline abusive and insisting on conspiracy theories. Many people have questioned whether it is Storey himself running the twitter account, which honestly wouldn’t be too far-fetched considering the President of the United States has full control of his twitter account and behaves in a similar manner. The Rich Energy twitter account noticed this tweet from Whyte Bikes and responded the only way they know how.
Enter Chris Harris. Yes, that Chris Harris.
In case you’re not aware of who Chris Harris is, he’s the current host of BBC’s Top Gear, and has been a motoring journalist for several decades, rising to prominence in the wider community through his brilliantly made “Chris Harris on Cars” videos. Certainly for me he provided a great source of inspiration to go and drive the same cars he was driving, within the comfort of my own home thanks to simulators such as Assetto Corsa and Automobilista.
Harris notices the largely maniacal tone of the Rich Energy PR department and decides to give the Haas F1 Team’s twitter account a little nudge to let them know that, hey guys, something pretty weird is going on here, you might want to take a look.
The response from the Rich Energy account is where things really start to take a nosedive for the supposed “premium and innovated British energy drink” company, as they respond to Harris’ tweet in the most childish of manners, somehow claiming that Chris Harris was responsible for the Ultima car brand not being given a fair go against the likes of Porsche and Lamborghini for some on-track testing. Something that never actually happened, and even if it did, it was something that Rich Energy are claiming happened so long ago, Chris Harris was not even a part of Top Gear yet.
Of course, Harris being the classy guy that he is, takes the high road and remains polite, replying that “you just have to settle back and enjoy the madness!”. Even the likes of Jason Plato and Marino Franchitti chime in to back up their fellow racer and confirm that we’re indeed not crazy in thinking that what this Rich Energy PR person (or CEO, who knows?) is coming out with is something that would otherwise have you fired from a PR position in minutes.
If we dig a little deeper however, there have been widespread claims that Rich Energy don’t actually have any product to sell, as many people are asking where on earth can this stuff actually be purchased? Not that you’d actually want any, but it’s a bit like chasing the Loch Ness Monster. It’s the achievement of having found the unfindable. People say it exists, but no one can actually find any proof of its existence. You can of course order it from their website online, but many people have reported that their orders simply never arrived. This is all despite the fact that Rich Energy claim that their product is available across hundreds of supermarket chains.
Funnily enough, the oddities of this organisation doesn't stop there. Rich Energy say they have "a 50 million pound manufacturing facility", however when you look for their address, the only one they have available, this is location you are greeted with.
This has prompted many to wonder if Rich Energy actually exist? Or if they're just a big scam, trying to create their own business by sponsoring an F1 Team, and making money in reverse order, rather than having a product to sell and endorsing products through their earned reputation.
This entire situation is creepy beyond all measure, and I very much doubt that Haas will make any comment on the situation unless they decide to ditch Rich Energy completely, which looks unlikely considering they already have their money.
So while the 2019 season hasn't been tremendously exciting on the track, rest assured, the off-track stories may be the defining feature of this years Formula One Championship.