DeltaWing builder suing Nissan over BladeGlider Concept, ZEOD RC
Dr. Don Panoz is the man behind the DeltaWing design concept. This concept made a splash in LeMans when it was given approval as a Garage 56 experimental entry into the 2012 series. It did very well for itself and, with the rule changes, was redesigned as the DeltaWing Coupe, now an accepted design for LeMans racing, though Nissan is no longer a part of the project.
Instead, starting in 2014, Nissan will be entering the new ZEOD RC hybrid-electric concept into the Garage 56 category as their vision of the next-generation of DeltaWaing-style racing. Panoz saw that as an infringement on his design, he says, but decided not to pursue it because it was experimental in both design and powertrain and was not likely to go any further than the conceptual stage.
Then Nissan released the BladeGlider concept.
Panoz believes that because the BladeGlider is planned for consumer production, he should step in and enforce his rights. He owns patents on the DeltaWing design and feels that the ZEOD RC and BladeGlider are both infringements on those patents. He's asked a court to issue a cease-and-desist order to Nissan on both vehicle designs, demanding that they stop showing, representing, and otherwise marketing them in all media. This would put a halt to the ZEOD RC's Garage 56 entry and would stop the BladeGlider from being promoted or shown at auto shows and online.
Panoz has named both Darren Cox, Nissan's motorsport boss, and his former colleague on the DeltaWing, now a Nissan employee, Ben Bowlby. Bowlby is one of the principle designers behind the BladeGlider.
All of this is still in its preliminary stages, but it appears that Panoz may have the legal system on his side with this one. It will come down to nitpicking over what the patents cover, which Nissan may have already mapped out with their legal team before introducing either the ZEOD RC or the BladeGlider.
Nissan, for its part, has not issued a statement as of yet. The ZEOD RC is already completing track testing and is said to be ready for the race circuit next year. The BladeGlider, Nissan recently said, is already a reality in prototype form (based on the Ariel Atom), but would probably be two or three years away from production at this point.
This will be interesting to watch as it could put a big crimp in Nissan's marketing.