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.