R-R faces pounds 10m claim over licence deal

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The Independent Online
ROLLS-ROYCE Motor Cars is facing a pounds 10m claim in the High Court after allegedly reneging on a deal to license the use of its famous trademarks such as the Spirit of Ecstasy on a range of products from perfume to sports goods.

If the action succeeds then one small part of the Rolls-Royce heritage will remain in British hands after the two German carmakers Volkswagen and BMW have settled their battle for control of the company.

The litigation came to light in the circular to shareholders, sent out yesterday by Rolls' parent company, Vickers, urging them to back VW's pounds 430m bid for the luxury car maker.

The British company Classic Licensing, part owned by the group that runs the Trocadero complex in London's West End, was granted a licence by R-RMC in May, 1996 to use all its trademarks, except for the Rolls- Royce name itself, on a range of perfumes. The agreement was subsequently extended.

But following a change of management at R-RMC the licence was withdrawn a year later on the grounds that Classic Licensing had not submitted the products it proposed to market for approval.

A writ was issued in last June but Classic Licensing agreed to stay proceedings pending discussions with R-RMC. Proceedings were reactivated this month after Classic Licensing said it became clear R-RMC had no intention of granting a licence.