Aerolab and 1Malaysia Racing Team cleared by High Court in London On 21/03/2012, the High Court of Justice in London handed down its judgment concerning Aerolab/FondTech, 1Malaysia Racing Team (Lotus Racing at the time the dispute occurred and now Caterham F1 Team) and Mike Gascoyne in the case brought against them by Force India Formula 1 Limited alleging the misuse of confidential information and related intellectual property rights.
Force India’s allegations of “systematic copying” of their designs and misuse of confidential information for the initial Lotus T127 wind tunnel model in August-September 2009 by Aerolab/FondTech and of a conspiracy to copy between Managing Director, Jean-Claude Migeot, and Chief Technical Officer of the Caterham Group, Mike Gascoyne, were entirely rejected by the Court on the basis of the evidence put before it at trial.
The Judge, Mr. Justice Arnold, said, at paragraph 339 of his judgment: “In my view Force India has come nowhere near establishing that (systematic copying of the aerodynamically significant parts of the Force India car) was the case. On the contrary, such misuse as I have found to have occurred mainly consisted of opportunistic copying of CAD files by CAD designers in order to take a short cut.”
It was important to the overall outcome, Aerolab/FondTech believes, that Mr. Justice Arnold fully understood the detailed evidence contained in the CAD files and the case’s multitude of other technical details, which proved particularly vital to him being able to decide the issues.
This ruling therefore also settles in Aerolab’s favor the original dispute between Aerolab and Force India over unpaid fees to the sum of €850K for services originally rendered by Aerolab to Force India until July 2009.
Aerolab/FondTech accepts that the very small sum (€25k) of compensation awarded to Force India by the Court is reasonable and accurately covers the original savings in time and trouble this “short cut” provided in preparing the initial Lotus model for wind tunnel development. It is also considerably less than the £15m ‘windfall’ sum Force India had claimed prior to the trial commencing.
Jean-Claude Migeot, Aerolab/FondTech Managing Director: “It has taken a long time but I am extremely happy and relieved to see 1Malaysia Racing Team and Mike Gascoyne cleared of any wrongdoing (other than the technical copyright infringement finding against 1MRT (UK) Limited for which no damages were claimed or awarded). I have always felt that the case was only initiated by Force India as a means to delay payment for outstanding work. With the Court having now examined the often extremely technical aspects of the evidence and come to the decision it has, my viewpoint has not altered.
“We have always been very open with the facts. I am personally very grateful that Mr. Justice Arnold was able to fully understand the often subtle areas of technical detail involved, and am indebted to my highly-capable legal team of Counsel (Iain Purvis QC and Tom Alkin of 11 South Square) and Solicitors (Tim Bamford and Leslie Timms of Withers LLP), without whom this end result might not have been achieved.
“After two years of legal dispute, I am looking forward to once again focusing all of my attention on current and future Aerolab/FondTech projects.”
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