Since it entered Formula One last year as the little-known sponsor of America’s team with a murky past, Rich Energy has been dedicated to taking on its sworn enemy, Red Bull, in a rather one-sided rivalry both on and off the track. But Red Bull is finally answering, it appears, with a claim of trademark infringement.
The Rich Energy Twitter account, which is full of random gems and screenshots of recent legal onslaughts, posted the latest screenshot on Wednesday: an apparent claim in the Business and Property Courts of England and Wales, where the company went to court just recently against fellow British company Whyte Bikes and lost. Whyte Bikes, upon Rich Energy’s court-ordered deadline to pay it around $45,000 last week, told Jalopnik Friday that it had not been paid.
That case was over its stag-head logo, which recently changed to remove the “head” part on its Twitter account and website. This new one looks to be from energy-drink giant Red Bull in regards to its slogan, which can be seen in the center of its website: “Forget the wings, Rich Energy gives you horns.”
The court doesn’t appear to upload case documents until a case is over, as can be seen by documentation of the Whyte Bikes-Rich Energy case in its database. But Jalopnik has reached out to the court, Red Bull and Rich Energy in order to confirm the legitimacy of the posted document and for comment on it, and will update this story if we hear back.
Jalopnik has also asked both parties for comment, and asked Red Bull why now, since Rich Energy has been in F1 and so obviously after Red Bull—slogan and all—since late last year. We will, again, update this story if we hear back.
The claim, if legitimate, is over Red Bull’s “well known” trademarked slogan: that it “gives you wings.” Rich Energy’s deal is going head-on against Red Bull, which sold a reported 6.3 billion cans in 2017 compared to Rich Energy’s still-unknown sales. (Rich Energy CEO William Storey said in February that it had produced 90 million cans, told Jalopnik later that the sold number was “in excess of 100 million cans” and growing rapidly, then backtracked in court against Whyte Bikes to say the company had produced 90 million cans but had not filled and sold all of them. Rich Energy sold “circa 3 million cans” in 2018, he said.)
The apparent claim is against both Rich Energy, which took controlling power away from the embattled Storey recently and then became “Lightning Volt Limited,” and Storey himself. It seeks to determine whether the “gives you horns” line “takes unfair advantage of the repute” of Red Bull’s slogan due to the evident reference.
This is just the latest iteration of drama for Rich Energy, which has been a pile of questions since it entered F1 with Haas late last year. The rest of that drama—at least, the stuff we know—is further documented below.
Update: Friday, July 19, 2019 at 12:00 p.m. ET: A representative for the court responded to Jalopnik via email, saying the claim screenshot posted by the Rich Energy account “is an original document.” Here we go.