Lincoln GP Sportive Naming Rights

Re Lincoln Sportive Nameing Rights – Statement from Ian Penrose, director of ITP Events

REPLY TO this statement re the naming rights of the Lincoln GP Sportive
The following contains a summary of the current situation regarding the Lincoln Grand Prix Sportive and a rebuttal of the press release issued on 1st February 2016 by Event DS Ltd, which we consider to be defamatory.

“We have run the Lincoln Grand Prix Sportive for the last five years as a separate event, set up as a commercial entity. We’ve put a lot of time and investment into the event. “The event has commercial value and is well regarded in the market. Our event in no way impinged on the events cancelled by Events DS, and has not caused the cancellation.

“However, due to the dispute that arose, we attempted to change the name of our event to Lincoln Michaelgate Sportive and the date to May 7 pending legal advice, as we have never had to deal with another company infringing our trademarks and attempting to pass off our business in this way. “We tried to move to another date to avoid a clash but this was not possible for several reasons (given in detail below), including the fact that there is a market event taking place on May 7 in Castle Square.

“Our event has a good safety record. Last year we had over 1,600 riders and needed an ambulance just once for a minor collision. “If the situation hadn’t been taken up with such a confrontational attitude on the part of DS Events, I believe we could have worked together to make more profit and a better experience for the riders. “I feel like after last year’s championships there was potential for a huge marketing launch together and a huge benefit to the local economy. Now the opportunity to build on last year’s success has been totally lost. ”

“However, we are committed to the event for the long term and see this as strictly a temporary situation, and riders can rest assured that we will be working hard to grow the event and deliver an ever improving experience for the riders.”

Detailed statement regarding the press release by Events DS Ltd on 1st February 2016.

Due to the number of false and entirely misleading statements in the press release from Events DS Ltd on 1st February regarding the cancellation of some of the Lincoln Festival of cycling events, we are now issuing a full statement on this matter. There follows a point by point rebuttal of the statement.

From Events DS Ltd statement:
The Lincoln Festival of Cycling organisers are very disappointed to announce that the Lincoln Criterium, Lincoln Sportive and Lincoln Uphill Dash will be cancelled for 2016. The Velo Club Lincoln and the Lincoln Festival of Cycling organisers are left with no other choice despite their unprecedented efforts to reach an agreement with ITP Events’ regarding the Sportive.

ITP Events rebuttal:
The Lincoln Grand Prix Sportive as run by ourselves for the last five years in no way impinges on the events cancelled by Events DS. At the 2016 National Championships the sportive was finished and cleared on time as agreed with the then organizer Ian Emmerson to ensure the Criterium and hill climb events took place.

From Events DS Ltd statement:
In September we wrote to ITP Events’ informing them that the decision had been that their Sportive would no longer be recognised as part of the weekend because of both Financial and Safety concerns raised by the Safety Advisory Groups.

ITP Events rebuttal:
It is important here to understand the background to the Lincoln GP Sportive. In 2010 I met with Ian Emmerson and Roger Hobby of VC Lincoln, among others, with the proposal to run a sportive in Lincoln. They confirmed that they did not have an organizer, the personnel or the funds to run such an event. We agreed that I would take the event on as a commercial operation and
provide an income stream for the race once it went into profit. All of the financing and organization would come from myself and, so there was no financial risk or workload for either Ian Emmerson or VC Lincoln. Also, all financial risk was with ITP Events, so if the event was a failure, we would be left to fund the losses. Ian Emmerson and the committee of VC Lincoln
approved of this and it was a win/win for all concerned as long as the event was successful.

From Events DS Ltd statement:
The new 3 day format was possible by cross funding the additional events from the income generated by the Sportive.
ITP Events rebuttal: If Events DS committed to delivering an event funded by a sportive that another company owns, I think that, as a business practice, speaks for itself.

From Events DS Ltd statement:
Whilst we do not want to dwell on the point of safety, for clarity there were serious concerns over the lack of Safety Planning and in fact there was a threat of cancellation given for the 2015 Sportive from Lincolnshire Police Safety Advisory Group (SAG). From 2010 to 2014, ITP did not produce and submit a Safety Plan to the City of Lincoln Council SAG so the previous
Organiser, Ian Emmerson, incorporated it into the main weekend plan to ensure the event could go ahead.

ITP Events rebuttal:
ITP Events presented the sportive Safety Plan to Lincoln SAG on 10th June 2015 and this was accepted by all present. Lincoln SAG also raised no concerns about the event at the SAG debrief.

From Events DS Ltd statement:
On receipt of our letter, ITP initially moved their event to a different date and removed the words ‘Lincoln Grand Prix’ from the event name, only to change it back once the Festival of Cycling programme was launched which fitted in with the requests of the letter.

ITP Events rebuttal:
Upon receipt of a letter from Events DS Ltd informing us they were taking over our event, we initially changed the name (to Lincoln Michaelgate Sportive) and date (to 7th May) pending legal advice as we have never had to deal with another company infringing our trademarks and attempting to pass off our business in this way. We tried to move to another date to avoid a clash but
this was not possible for several reasons, as below.

Reason 1.
Ian Penrose of ITP Events contacted Dan Ellmore on 11th August 2015 to instigate a meeting to talk about the 2016 events since Ian Emmerson’s retirement. Ellmore confirmed that the meeting would take place in September, so ITP Events went ahead and booked venues and services for 14th May 2016 in the same manner as the last five years. These bookings cannot be cancelled. On 25th August Ellmore’s company, Events DS Ltd, is registered at Companies House.

Reason 2.
There is another event on 7th May in Castle Square.

Reason 3.
In response to the creation of the Lincoln Michaelgate Sportive, Dan Ellmore registered the domain name to prevent ITP Events using it. This name was created by ITP Events and Dan Ellmore can have no possible claim to it. We can only conclude that this domain registration was taken to disrupt ITP Events legitimate business and to again
‘pass off’ our business as theirs by creating confusing for the paying public. For these reasons, and once legal advice was received, ITP Events reverted to their original date of 14th May 2016 and their original name Lincoln Grand Prix Sportive.

From Events DS Ltd statement:
The Velo Club Lincoln, Lincoln Grand Prix and Lincoln Festival of Cycling are all non-profit organisations and have minimal funding to run up huge costs in long drawn out legal battles.

ITP Events rebuttal:
The Lincoln Festival of Cycling is not being run by a non-profit organization, it is being run by a new events company set up by Dan Ellmore, Events DS Ltd. ITP Events received a letter from Events DS on 16th September 2015 informing us that they were taking ownership of our event with the intention of running others also. It transpires that one of these ‘other events’ is our Le
Petit Grand Prix sportive that we created four years ago.

Here is the wording of their letter. The Ian referred to is Ian Emmerson. “As you are aware the Event has now passed over from Ian to myself and I have entered into a Business with Peter & Kelly Odam to develop not only the Lincoln weekend but also other Events. To this end we intend in 2016 to deliver the Grand Prix Sportive ourselves and we shall shortly be launching the Event in conjunction with the above.”

The claim that the organizers of the Lincoln GP are non-profit is false, and any legal bills run up in this dispute on their side should have been paid by Events DS, not Velo Club Lincoln. If they have been paid by Velo Club Lincoln (of which Ellmore is a member) then they seem to be underwriting the costs of Dan Ellmore’s dubious business practices. Also, to our knowledge, there are no such organizations as Lincoln Grand Prix and Lincoln Festival of Cycling. The Lincoln Grand Prix race was run under the auspices of Velo Club Lincoln and the Lincoln Grand Prix Sportive is run by ITP Events, and events by these independent organizations formed the Festival of Cycling in 2011.

From Events DS Ltd statement:
However, a small amount of the Events finances were invested in having Solicitors and subsequently London Barristers confirm that The Velo Club Lincoln own the rights to the name ‘Lincoln Grand Prix’ which as we are all aware is a 60-year-old event.

ITP Events rebuttal:
Barristers are not in a position to confirm this, it is merely a legal opinion. Our solicitors challenged this successfully, the evidence being that Events DS stopped using the name of our event, The Lincoln Grand Prix Sportive, when the legal arguments were made by our team. The legal position is that ITP Events own all the goodwill and intellectual property relating to the sportive as the sole creator and commercial organizer of the event. The brand Lincoln Grand Prix Sportive is distinct from the Lincoln Grand Prix, both in name and character. ITP Events has made no attempt to prevent Events DS, Velo Club Lincoln, or anyone else using the phrase Lincoln Grand Prix and as such the sportive in no way threatens the use of the name in racing as it has been used for the last 60 years.

From Events DS Ltd statement:
Despite this confirmation ITP Events’ has continued to promote their event as part of the Festival of Cycling weekend and threaten legal action against us, the Organisers.

ITP Events rebuttal:
This is completely false. None or our promotional material mentions the Festival. The only potential legal action is against Events DS continued use of our brand and passing off our business.

From Events DS Ltd statement:
Whilst we could have run, and were proposing to run a separate Sportive, the situation arose of two Events being scheduled on the same day in the same place, which is totally confusing for anyone interested in being part of the weekend. We did not want to cause that confusion. In both 2014 & 2015 Ian Emmerson (then the Lincoln Grand Prix organiser) was informed by ITP
Events that the sportive was ‘break even’ and there was a concern about any rise in costs or an increase in the £2 payment per rider paid to the Lincoln Grand Prix.

ITP Events rebuttal:
This is completely false. The event made money after a couple of years and this was always made clear to Ian Emmerson and money was given to him by ITP Events to help fund the professional race. At no point in 2014 or 2015 did anyone from ITP Events ever tell Ian Emmerson that the event was ‘break even’. All monies that were to be paid both to Ian Emmerson and Roger Hobby were paid in full and on time and neither have ever stated otherwise.

From Events DS Ltd statement:
However, following a telephone call to the Velo Club Chairman, Roger Hobby, Mr Penrose, the Director of ITP Events informed him he would require £20,000 to buy the event and let the Velo Club nd its organisational team run Lincoln GP Sportive as an official part of the weekend.

ITP Events rebuttal:
This is another misleading statement. We reiterate that it is not Velo Club Lincoln that is running the Lincoln GP race, it is Dan Ellmore as Events DS Ltd as outlined above. Roger Hobby asked e to give him a figure off the top of my head as to what the event might be worth in commercial terms. At no point did I tell him I would sell or that I wanted Velo Club to pay. The figure
was an estimate.

From Events DS Ltd statement:
Following this conversation, private investment was secured and an offer for the full amount was made to ITP Events Limited; however sadly on Friday when no response had been received we had to take the view that there was no further way of moving forward with the negotiations and because of the time constraints we have decided to pull out. This does mean that we are unable to continue with the whole Event, hence the cancellations.

ITP Events rebuttal:
This statement is false in its entirety. ITP Events agreed to have the event properly valued by an accountant. Once we had established the value we asked for an undertaking that all negotiations would remain confidential between the parties involved, as is normal business practice. This undertaking was not given. Our solicitors requested this by email on the 4th of January

2016 but no such undertaking was received. Our solicitor wrote to Events DS’s solicitor on 19th January chasing the undertaking but again this was not given and no response of any description was received. As a result no negotiations have started and any allegation that ITP Events did not respond is entirely false. It should also be mentioned that the valuation from our
accountant was never given to Events DS in the absence of the undertaking, so it would be interesting to know how they made an offer for the full amount, given that they didn’t know what it was.