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Force India to appeal Aerolab/Lotus Racing ruling

ESPNF1 Staff
March 27, 2012 « Hamilton pinpoints areas for improvement | Bahrain predicts 'life as normal' at 2012 race »
Pictures of a wind tunnel model sparked the dispute © Lotus

Force India will appeal the High Court judgement that awarded it €25,000 in its case with Aerolab and Lotus Racing as it believes the figure was not high enough.

The case was based on a longstanding intellectual property dispute, centering on allegations that Aerolab had used wind-tunnel models during its work with Lotus Racing (now Caterham) in 2010 that were similar to those used when it was working with Force India. The High Court judge ruled that Aerolab and Lotus Racing had used CAD files as a "short cut" and the resulting copyright claim was worth just €25,000 in damages to Force India.

Force India is not happy with that ruling however, and deputy team principal Rob Fernley told GP Week over the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend that his team plans to appeal the sum.

"I'm not confident [of getting the compensation increase on appeal], but we'll certainly go through the process," he said. "The settlement is totally unrepresentative. You couldn't even design a wheel nut for €25,000. Why are we spending £15m for something we could do for €25,000?"

Fernley told Autosport that Force India's legal team is still preparing the exact details of its appeal.

"We will ask the judge for appeal on a number of things, and our legal team has not determined that [yet]. Of course damages will be one and some of the conduct will be the other. What cannot be appealed is the decision - because that is admitted in affidavit and on oath. The guilt side stays; what we are saying is we want more damages. If we get it, or if we even get the appeal, is a completely different thing."

Force India has also vowed to take the case to the FIA, while one of Caterham's closest rivals over the past two years, Marussia, revealed over the weekend that it has opened a dialogue with the governing body over a possible breach of the Concorde Agreement.

"The rules that we all as teams operate under are very strict and very clear in terms of what we have to do as a constructor," Marussia sporting director Graeme Lowdon told GP Week. "There are certain parts of the car that you have to design yourself and you have to own the IP to that.

"Unless I'm mistaken, the contents of part of this judgement suggest that there has been copyright infringement and if that's the case it needs to be looked at and it needs to be looked at seriously because it's really fundamental to the integrity of the sport."

GP Week reports that Caterham's position as a Column 1 team under the Concorde Agreement, estimated to be worth $30 million over two years, is also at stake. For more on the story turn to page 33 in this week's GP Week.