Warwickshire video games giant Codemasters is locked in a legal battle with the organisers of the world-famous Le Mans race after it used Lamborghini, Ferrari and Porsche images in one of its popular games.
Codemasters, which reproduced the vehicles for its game Race Driver: Grid, has brought legal action against Automobile Club de L’Ouest (ACO), the organisers of the world-famous “24 heures du Mans” race in France, claiming the French organisation handed it permission to use images of the racing cars even though it did not have the legal right to do so.
The Southam-based firm, which employs around 500 people, had been approached by Lamborghini, Porsche and Ferrari who all said that ACO did not have the right to hand over the licences.
Codemasters, which also produced the acclaimed Colin McRae: DiRT games, is now looking to ACO for compensation but ACO has denied liability.
The original agreement between Codemasters and ACO saw ACO grant the rights to Codemasters to use images of the cars from the 2006 Le Mans races, along with liveries and pictures.
The agreement included vehicles such as the Porsche 911 GTR-RSR, Ferrari F430GT, Ferrari 550-GTS Maranello and Lamborghini Murcielago R-GT.
Codemasters also produced a promotional video for the game which included a simulation of the Ferrari F430GT car at Le Mans which came out in February last year.
The firm was approached by Ferrari which said ACO had no right to licence the Ferrari trademarks and designs for the game, causing Codemasters to remove the cars concerned.
But the Italian car-maker issued proceedings against Codemasters in the Paris Commercial Court last year which resulted in Codemasters being given a limited right to use three Ferrari cars online.
Codemasters also struck a similar licencing deal with Lamborghini last year but is still negotiating with Porsche to reach a settlement.
Race Driver: Grid, which was released last year, has been widely praised for its realistic crash scenes where up to 70 components of each car drop off when vehicles collide, with debris left scattered on the track which players have to navigate.
Codemasters has marketed the game on its wide range of iconic cars which gamers can race in a variety of locations.
Le Mans is not the only race to feature in Race Driver: Grid, gamers can drive cars round famous circuits worldwide including the streets of Washington DC and San Francisco.
Codemasters was founded by teenagers Richard and David Darling in 1986.
Today its games are sold all over the world, with its biggest titles including Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising and online games such as The Lord of the Rings Online.
Last November Codemasters took over Birmingham developers Swordfish Studios, buying the firm out from American games giant Activision Vivendi.