The joint liquidator of Bristol Cars has upped the ante in the row over intellectual property rights.
Investor and property developer Jason Wharton, who owns Bristol Manufacturing Ltd, claimed to have bought the rights (IPR) as he sought to revive the brand, which went into liquidation in February 2020.
He says it will include reborn versions of the firm’s 411 Series 8 and Fighter, which are set to be the ‘final internal combustion engine Bristol Cars’.
Production will then move to creating a new battery-electric vehicle – the Buccaneer – scheduled to start in 2025
However, Frost Group responded to say he didn’t have the IPR and that what Wharton had actually done was try to revoke some trademarks, not remove them, and had bought some tooling and spares at an auction of the company’s assets.
Wharton then claimed that Frost Group wasn’t the joint liquidator – even though there is firm evidence at Companies House that it is – and said it hadn’t given any ‘status or qualitative information about IPR ownership, so it has no useful purpose’.
He also stated that what Frost Group had said was ‘verging on the misleading, possibly indeed irresponsible’.
Trademarks are an area that come under the umbrella of intellectual property rights, and in a statement issued to Car Dealer, Frost Group said it objected to Wharton’s claims that its earlier rebuttal was in any way inaccurate or misleading.
It reaffirmed that it was the liquidator, with two of the group’s insolvency practitioners – Jeremy Frost and Patrick Wadsted – joint liquidators of Bristol Cars Ltd (BCL).
Frost Group also pointed out that both BCL and Kamkorp Autokraft Ltd, which owns the trademarks in question, had objected to Wharton’s actions over the Bristol trademarks.
‘Mr Wharton has sought to ‘‘revoke’’ not ‘‘remove’’ the trademark registrations, which Kamkorp Autokraft Ltd owned.’
It added: ‘To clarify, if a trademark has not been in use for a period of five years, a person or organisation can apply to register the trademark for their purposes.
‘Therefore, it is essential to highlight that BCL went into liquidation in February 2020, so this action is incredibly premature.’
Frost Group also highlighted the fact that Wharton embarked on a similar action over the trade name Allard and failed.
‘Our agents Wyles Hardy have spoken with Mr Wharton several times about matters surrounding the IPR of Bristol Cars.
‘They and we being fully aware of the IPR which BCL owns, which includes, amongst other things, the vehicle designs, we have advised Mr Wharton to speak to our agents if he wished to purchase these.
‘Unfortunately, however, whilst at first engaging with them with a view to acquiring such IPR, he has not pursued that course of action.
‘In terms of these vehicle designs, we can categorically state that neither Mr Wharton nor any of his companies own any of these. They remain the property of BCL.
‘We would therefore seriously question how he plans to start “remastering” any Bristol 411 or Fighter.’