I didn’t sleep much that night, and the next morning I had a nervous knot in my stomach that wouldn’t go away. How could we introduce the F1 in 10 days without a name? We couldn’t change the name in 10 days. And if we were to change the name, why hadn’t we done so back when LexisNexis first complained? This was a PR nightmare. Yuki had to be on the defensive in trying to explain to Dr. Toyoda and the chairman what had happened. We all were sitting in the board room angrily spitting out foul expletives about LexisNexis and the judge. Not one of us was discussing what to do next.
Yuki Togo walked into the room and sat down. It got quiet. He paused for a moment and then spoke.
“No one,” he stated emphatically, “is to say a negative word about LexisNexis, Meade Corporation, or the judge. It will serve no purpose for us to waste any time talking about them or complaining about the judge’s decision. We haven’t lost! This is not over! I want us to focus on one thing and one thing only—what we need to do to keep the Lexus name.”
The room immediately lit up, and everyone started talking at once.
On January 2, 1989, Bill Plourde was to file for a temporary injunction that would allow us to use the Lexus name at the Detroit Auto Show.
I was directed to make arrangements for the auto show displays to cover all references to Lexus in case we didn’t get an injunction in time, but not communicate any directions to the dealers. I was also to be ready to change everything back when we successfully received the temporary relief from Judge Edelstein’s order.
Yuki directed Bill Plourde to immediately file an appeal. TMC had set the date of March 1, 1989 as the very last moment we could wait before needing to change the name. All of the tooling for the car had to be decided by then to begin production in June. Yuki was fully expecting that we could win the case on appeal and get a reversal in an unheard-of 59 days. He would not allow any negative thinking and told us that we should all be planning to use the Lexus name at launch.
“Now get going!” he said. “I’m counting on all of you.”
It was a short meeting. After that meeting, not a negative word was spoken about LexisNexis, Meade Corporation, or Judge Edelstein. We all got to work.
“Hear my cry, for I am very low. Rescue me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me.” Psalm 142:6 (NLT)
Looking back over 1988, it had been a year packed with personal and work-related drama.
(To be continued in “1988 in the Rear View Mirror”)