The legal dispute between Force India and Team Lotus is set to be heard in the High Court at the beginning of next year. Force India claim that Italian aerodynamic company Aerolab “may have” disclosed intellectual property to Team Lotus’ parent company, 1 Malaysia Racing Team.
In August 2009, Force India ended the contract agreement it held with Aerolab because of what they described as “a breach of confidentiality”.
That led to Aerolab starting civil proceedings against Force India in Italy and in the United Kingdom for the illegitimate early termination of the service agreement, for which one million euros (£860,000) had been paid into an escrow account as a security. SkySports
The team started criminal proceedings in October 2009 by filing a complaint against unknown persons with the competent Italian authorities for the illegitimate disclosure of confidential information.
Force India believes that evidence retrieved during the investigations carried out by the Italian authorities show that a transfer of information took place and, as a result, separate criminal proceedings are currently ongoing in Italy in respect of the wrongful disclosure of confidential information, with articles in the Italian press recently claiming that Gascoyne, Team Lotus CEO Tony Fernandes and Aerolab’s Jean Claude Migeot have all been formally charged.
Similar evidence was then submitted to the UK courts, and the civil case to be heard next January will now deal with the IP infringement and the services of Aerolab Srl. to Force India F1 Team Ltd. Meanwhile, in Italy, the authorities are actively pursuing cases against Gascoyne, 1Malaysia Racing Team Ltd and Aerolab Srl. for consistent infringements of intellectual property rights.