back to article F1 team wins CAD copyright war, wakes up to £700k hangover

The High Court said Aerolab had breached the confidence of team Force India and that team Caterham (previously Lotus) had infringed its rival's copyright. The judge rejected claims from Force India that Caterham/Lotus and its chief technical officer, Mike Gascoyne, were liable for breach of confidence. Gascoyne previously worked …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Those "severe penalties" the FIA hands out

    tend to take the form of stripping the offender of any points they accrued in the relevant year's championship.

    This isn't really a problem for Caterham...

    1. Khaptain Silver badge

      Re: Those "severe penalties" the FIA hands out

      I seem to remember that a certain "not to be named" associate of the FIA had an entirely different method of dishing out punishment ( or was it receiving, I never actualy saw the videos)...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Those "severe penalties" the FIA hands out

      ... but can also include a $100million fine (as was case when McLaren obtained Ferrari info) - that would be a problem for Caterham!

      1. Matt 21

        Re: Those "severe penalties" the FIA hands out

        On the other hand if you're Renault and copy McLaren you get told to go and stand in the naughty corner for five minutes....

  2. Gordon 10
    Thumb Up


    So Force India were vindicated in the original decision but the judge took account of the fact that if they hadnt have acted like idiots in the first place the problem would have never happened. Whats called a pyrric victory for Force India.

    I like these kind of rules - shows Judges in a good, sensible light :) and basically says dont be a dick and then try to hide behind the law.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Ouch!

      Hi, Gordon 10,

      I was actually thinking the exact opposite to ..... "I like these kind of rules - shows Judges in a good, sensible light :) and basically says dont be a dick and then try to hide behind the law" ...... and was thinking the judge's decision much more worthy of a cheap, easily bought prick. But I would not wish to labour the crazy point/learned opinion.

  3. Silverburn

    Money for nothing...

    ..especially since these 'products' appear to have done little to elevate either team above 'back marker' status...

    Caveat: I secretly want Caterham to actually do ok.

    1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      Re: Money for nothing...

      It would only be money for nothing if they had paid money. My reading of it is that they didn't pay (so I do wonder how they are still recognised as the owners of the creative works)

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Last time I checked, Force India were doing quite well and are hardly a back marker team. Midfield perhaps, but no back marker.

  5. vagabondo

    Does this mean

    that the contractee gets ownership of the copyrights even if they repudiate the contract by failing to pay the contractor?

    1. HeNe

      Re: Does this mean

      If "intellectual property" were treated as "property", AND breach of contract on the part of Force India was shown, I'd hope the Air-whatever group could get a "mechanic's lien" (do they have mechanics' liens in the UK?), which would prohibit Force India from using or selling on the "property", AND allowing Air-whatever to use or sell on that "property".

      1. vagabondo

        Re: Re: Does this mean

        IANAL, just an engineer, but my understanding is:

        If goods are given to you for repair, they can be held pending payment.

        If the goods are supplied, even as part of a repair or other service then they become the property of the customer (unless there is a prior contract otherwise), and the customer becomes a debtor to the amount of the invoice. For this reason it is common for order forms to be insisted on, and to carry a condition to the effect that all goods remain the property of the seller, until the total sum (goods and services) is paid in full. Without those words it would be illegal to attempt to repossess the goods without a court order.

        I would think that either the contract was valid, and the customer is due to pay the amount owing plus the costs of recovery, interest, etc. Or the contract was repudiated, whereby the seller is only due consideration for costs and inconvenience, and retains ownership of the design, including copyright. It seems tp me that the judge has ruled that the contract was not repudiated by non-payment.

        Does this mean that if:

        I undertake design work.

        Show the results to the customer prior to payment

        The customer sells the copyright on to a third party and then ceases trading.

        I am left with a worthless debt, and cannot use the design within another commission?

  6. Simon B
    Thumb Up

    trade secret eh? then maybe force india should have PAYED for them not for all intents and purposes got them therough deceipt (non payment of services!). Excellent decision by the judge, common sense at last! Team India didn't pay for the design so they didn't bloody own it! :)

    1. cosymart

      Tut tut


      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Tut tut

        But you missed "deceit" ...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    i don't want to say it but this is so old news.....even the bbc reported this back on the 22nd keep up at the back!!!

  8. Grease Monkey Silver badge

    So to summarize: Aerolab developed something for Force India for which the latter failed to pay. Because Force India failed to pay up Aerolab sold the "goods" to somebody else. Seems to me Aerolab acted perfectly reasonably.

    Force India need to learn that if you want to own something you have to pay for it. And that's what the judge is telling them. I'll bet Force India aren't particularly happy with the lawyers who advised them to take this one to court.

    Why is it that so many people involved in big money sports think that the normal rules don't apply?

    Looking around the interwebs it seems that some people are getting very confused about this because it involves IP. Well what if it wasn't IP but just ordinary goods or services? Imagine Aerolab were your local tuning shop and that you gave them an engine to rebuild and tune, then you an engine for which you declined to pay. Would it be reasonable for the tuning shop to try to cut their losses by selling the engine to your competitor? Of course it would.

    1. PatientOne

      "So to summarize: Aerolab developed something for Force India for which the latter failed to pay. Because Force India failed to pay up Aerolab sold the "goods" to somebody else. Seems to me Aerolab acted perfectly reasonably."

      Not quite. Force India commissioned Aerolab to do some design work, then didn't pay. Aerolab was then commissioned by the other team to do some design work and used some of the templates they'd developed for Force India as a 'short cut'. Those templates were the IP of Force India, according to the Judge, despite non-payment because of the contract and the information supplied in order to produce the templates was confidential. Not that unreasonable if the information was things like telemetry readings from their cars - that is certainly confidential information.

      Nothing in this story indicates why the other team should be considered guilty of anything, however - they didn't ask for the Force India data, did they?

      In your example, it would be like taking a custom engine into a garage and asking for a part to be made for it. If you don't pay, the engine is still yours - the garage can't take that away, only the part they crafted. However, the garage can't then use your engine as a template for making parts for other customers: That's where the IP infringement comes in.

      Well, that's how I read it anyhow.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Farce Indian untrustworthy

    Vijay should go to prison IMO for failure to pay his debts. He has given F1 a bad image to say the least. Aerolabs is a dumbarse for using another clients files to generate new work and should be held accountable. Caterham/Lotus should not be allowed to race the chassis design they received from Aerolabs as it's stolen IP.

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