Friday, March 23, 2012

Intellectual Property Dispute between Aerolab & Sahara Force India

The dispute between Design Company Aerolab and Force India has been settled, on 23rd March, 2012, at the High Court in London. Sahara Force India was directed by the London High Court judge to pay outstanding fees of more than £700,000 to Aerolab, although Force India was handed just under £21,000 in compensation for use of its intellectual property.
This penalty comes in as a part of the declaration of an intellectual property dispute between the two teams. Despite the High Court ruling, the Silverstone-based team now plans to refer the matter to the FIA for further consideration given that using the intellectual property of other teams is banned under F1 rules. The UK High Court judgement, in respect of the illegal copying, will now be referred for the consideration of Formula One's governing body, the FIA," the team said, "whilst the Italian criminal case against Mike Gascoyne, Tony Fernandes and Jean Claude Migeot remains ongoing.

With already prevailing difficulties around reports that Vijay Mallya's Kingfisher Airlines may collapse following rising debts, frozen bank accounts, cancellation of flights and delay in salary payments, verdict on Force India might come as another blow for the tycoon. Aerolab had worked with Force India until 2009, when its ended the relationship over unpaid bills – with the company then starting work with the new Caterham team (then running under the Lotus name) just days later. Vijay Mallya's Formula One team had also alleged Aerolab and Caterham's chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne of misusing the team's intellectual property. However, Justice Arnold stated Force India "has come nowhere near establishing that. Force India claimed that the Lotus T127 had featured a large number of parts copied from Force India's design and although the court stated that the intellectual property rights had been used as a 'shortcut' it threw out claims that there has been 'systematic copying' of the design and said Force India hadn't come close to proving that to be the case.

Force India, which had prized its car designs at 15 million pounds ($23.8 million), may witness another hearing on legal costs, in May. It is said that the bill could be the final straw for struggling Mallya, who may now cede control of Force India to 42.5 per cent shareholder Subrata Roy, another billionaire of India. Relating to the teams' two-year intellectual property dispute, the High Court in London, however, also charged Aerolab for misuse of confidential information, and has asked the company to pay Rs 16.7 lakh (€25,000) to Force India. Some parts created using Force India confidential information were used on the Team Lotus race cars in the early part of the 2010 season.




Prof. (Dr.) Tabrez Ahmad,
Program Director 
Allaince College of Law, Alliance University,
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