Court Date Set For Force India Dispute With Lotus

Force India have today announced that The English High Court has set aside week commencing 16th January 2012 to hear the intellectual property infringement claim against various Team Lotus parent companies, their chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne, and Aerolab Srl.

This legal challenge, which was first announced in June last year, alleges that Force India technology appeared on the T127 – Lotus‘ challenger for the 2010 F1 season – owing to links between Gascoyne and Aerolab, who was previously a technical partner with Force India.

Vijay Mallya’s team had a contractual agreement with Aerolab Srl. throughout the 2008 and 2009 season whereby Aerolab Srl would provide services for the development of aerodynamic components of their cars. However, this collaboration ceased in August 2009 after Force India raised concerns about a breach of confidentiality.

Aerolab Srl. then started civil proceedings in both Italy and the UK again Force India for ‘illegitimate early termination’ of the agreement, and in October 2009 Force India started criminal proceedings by filing a complaint against unknown persons with the Italian authorities for the illegal disclosure of confidential information.

Force India believe that Aerolab Srl. may have disclosed their intellectual property to 1Malaysia Racing Team Ltd (the UK parent company of Team Lotus), and Mike Gascoyne, with whom Aerolab Srl. were working through a sister company. Evidence arising from the Italian investigation has been submitted to the UK Courts, leading to the case being discussed here.

Separately, in Italy, where Aerolab is registered, the authorities are pursuing cases against 1 Malaysia, Gascoyne and Aerolab Srl. for ‘consistent infringements of intellectual property rights’.