Don Panoz isn't a guy to shy away from a fight. Since December, Panoz's Deltawing Technologies has been in a lawsuit with Nissan over alleged intellectual property violations with the design of the Zeod RC. The situation went public several weeks ago when Deltawing bought an ad in The Tennessean, a paper near Nissan's US headquarters, and the industry trade, Automotive News, aimed squarely at company CEO Carlos Ghosn.

Now, Deltawing is trying the tactic a second time with an even more scathing ad in The Tennessean on July 11 and in Automotive News on July 14 that calls the Zeod's design out directly. The bulletin puts the two racecars side by side and asks readers compare their similarities.

According to Deltawing spokesperson Gary Fong, the idea for these ads started after mediation between the company and Nissan broke down earlier this year. "We were trying to bring them to settle it amicably," he said to Autoblog. When that didn't happen, Deltawing wanted to fight the misconceptions in the public about the program and lawsuit. The strategy actually worked, too. "We've seen an opinion change," said Fong. He estimates that before the advertisements the attitude was "90 percent against Panoz," but there has been more support since them.

The lawsuit between Deltawing and Nissan is still unsettled. According to Fong, the case is now in the discovery phase with the two sides' lawyers collecting depositions and evidence. Though, no specific court date to begin the trial is currently set. The key to the case is the ownership of the race car's intellectual property. While Ben Bowlby created both cars, "the work he did belongs to Panoz," said Fong. "It's only his [Bowlby's] design if he patented it." When contacted by Autoblog, Nissan had no comment. Check out the gallery to see both of the company's ads.


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  • 36 Comments
      edward.stallings
      • 5 Months Ago
      The Ambiguously Gay Duo should sue both their asses! They copied the Fudgepackard!
      ghetto2315
      • 5 Months Ago
      I blame Obama...
      Al
      • 5 Months Ago
      Seriously Panoz, nobody cares. If you truly think your design has been copied, then show how yours is better on the tracks. Not by putting out petty ads that give you a really bad rep.
      ffelix422
      • 5 Months Ago
      So someone is finally calling Asian car companies on their shameless need to copy everybody else's designs. I hope the settlement includes a public apology.
        1454
        • 5 Months Ago
        @ffelix422
        You're an idiot. Yes, the american car companies have been the pinnacle of automotive innovation........ That's what drove them out of business.
          Burn
          • 5 Months Ago
          @1454
          uhh there still in business,idiot.and doing very well.. just ask the Japanese,, they made an art form out of hiring American designers and engineers to get them caught up since the 70s.. just so you know the auto industry in this country predate your little Civic by about 60 years!
          1454
          • 5 Months Ago
          @1454
          If you are going to call someone an idiot, at least get the usage of "there"(they are or they're) correct. Also, if they are doing so well then why the need in recalling more cars than they have made the past 5 years?
      jakeroot
      • 5 Months Ago
      The automotive industry is constantly evolving, Deltawing. Sorry if Nissan "stole" your design -- that's sort of how this industry works. Keep working on improving your design. Nissan might continue to follow but you'll always be one step ahead.
        Narom
        • 5 Months Ago
        @jakeroot
        Its not how it works.
          Greg
          • 5 Months Ago
          @Narom
          Narom, since when? Has there ever been a case where one car company had a great idea that wasn't flat-out copied by others, especially for racing? To win a lawsuit, they must demonstrate that they have suffered harm due to to Nissan's actions. For the car itself, I don't see that. If Nissan claims they invented it, that it's their design, then there's damage. If the design was patented or trademarked, then there would be damages. If Nissan is preventing them from racing their design, then there's damages. Otherwise, they're just getting their panties in a bind, and that's not enough to win lawsuits.
          jakeroot
          • 5 Months Ago
          @Narom
          I don't want what happened to the mobile phone industry to happen to the automotive industry. One lawsuit leads to another which leads to another...it's no good.
      thecommentator2013
      • 5 Months Ago
      Nissan: 1 Panoz: 0
      thecommentator2013
      • 5 Months Ago
      Hey, Panoz...who stole the round shape of your wheels?
      SloopJohnB
      • 5 Months Ago
      BS. It's got four wheels and a staggered wheel setup…There is no way I would grant a patent to this design for the same reason no one can patent a four wheeled car per se.
      jayvelliott
      • 5 Months Ago
      Sorry Dan looks like you both copied your design from Batman
      hyspeedllc
      • 5 Months Ago
      Don Panoz is an IP rapist. It's Bowlby's idea and execution.
        DeltaWingTech
        • 5 Months Ago
        @hyspeedllc
        Panoz, Ganassi and other investors funded and continue to fund the DeltaWing project. Ben Bowlby and others were DWP56 LLC employees or worked for companies that were DeltaWing project service providers. All received compensation for their services. This work-for-hire arrangement means all work belongs to the company that paid compensation for the services. Bowlby does not legally own the IP; DWP56 LLC lawfully owns it. And current and past employees, including Bowlby, are not free to take this work and IP elsewhere. Also keep in mind the execution you mention could not have occurred without DWP56 LLC investors compensating the employees, paying the service providers, and providing significant project funding. DWP56 LLC contends its IP was misappropriated and used to develop the ZEOD RC and the BladeGlider concept.
        sperry
        • 5 Months Ago
        @hyspeedllc
        The funny thing about working for a company: the company owns the work you do... that's why they pay you to do it. If Bowlby wanted to keep the IP for himself, he shouldn't have let Panoz pay him to design them a car. So regardless of what you think about Panoz, Nissan doesn't get to leverage the work Bowlby did on the DeltaWing... they can only pay him to design something new. Common sense would suggest there's too much of the DeltaWing in the Zeod to claim Nissan's car is entirely new... but then again, the law and common sense don't always have much in common.
          vincentv721
          • 5 Months Ago
          @sperry
          Sperry, you are absolutely correct. Aside from the comic responses in this and other forums (and who among us would not want to cast the first joke?) . Seriously, if one reads about this case, and has a basic knowledge of business law -- therein may lie the problem with 50-90% of the respondents -- what you said applies. Bowlby worked for DeltaWing Partners and his IP and any patents related to DeltaWing belonged to that group led by Chip Ganassi. It's important for everyone to recognize what you've said is correct. The IP was not freely Bowlby's to take to Nissan. That's why Ganassi is suing Bowlby too. Ganassi and the DeltaWing companies own the IP. No matter what Bowlby or for that matter fellow forum-ers bloviate. Echoing your thoughts, no matter what one thinks about the advertising/PR strategy, bottom line is that Bowlby had no legal right to take his intellectual property to another company without permission.
      Bassracerx
      • 5 Months Ago
      i'm having a hard time seeing where a crime is commited here. they are not selling the racecar they just made one for themselves and raced with it. why would they need to pay licencing fees for that?
        janarm73
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Bassracerx
        From what I read this started as an IndyCar idea. I'm guessing had it won they would have sold a lot of DW platforms for IndyCar. The sports car racing direction must be the same, reasoning if DW starts to win others will want the platform and technologies. Or maybe there's a spec racing series opp? Throw in the road car ideas tossed out by Nissan and DW and there's even more biz.
          hyspeedllc
          • 5 Months Ago
          @janarm73
          FYI, the DW started and died as an IndyCar project several years before Panoz' involvement.
      bK
      • 5 Months Ago
      Seems like Deltawing is desperate for attention.
        Sir Duke
        • 5 Months Ago
        @bK
        Now, you're being silly. Anyway you slice it, its still thievery.
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