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Mat Coch writes:
Force India has been ordered to pay £650,000 in costs to Caterham and Mike Gascoyne. It's the latest ruling in the ongoing tiff between the two teams which centres around Aerolab, a small Italian design firm.
The problems started in 2009 when Force India failed to settle debts with the Italian firm. Aerolab had performed some development work on instruction from Force India's then technical boss Mike Gascoyne before the contract was dumped for lack of payment. Things came to a head at that year's Italian Grand Prix when Aerolab commenced legal proceedings against Force India, forcing the team to lodge £870,000 in security to allow it to go racing.
Force India then counter-sued, setting up a situation where the only winners were the lawyers involved. The High Court ruled on the matter in March, awarding the unpaid monies to Aerolab while Force India received £20,000 in damages in return.
That any damages were awarded, Force India argues, is an admission that copying of the team's intellectual property took place. Back in March the team said it intended to refer the matter to the FIA, though there's been no indication as yet of that happening.
The latest ruling by the Hon Mr Justice Arnold in the High Court has seen costs for the proceedings awarded to both Caterham and Mike Gascoyne. £400,000 was awarded to Gascoyne, who had his own representation throughout the case as individual claims were made against him, while £250,000 was awarded to the team. Force India has just 14 days in which to pay the £650,000.
All up, Force India has been ordered to pay more than £1.3m to Aerolab, Caterham and Gascoyne. Had it simply chosen to settle its debt with Aerolab it could have got away with paying a little over half that sum (£688,000), while it's understood an offer presented to the team ahead of the court case would have swung the pendulum in Force India's favour.
No doubt the legal team at Force India will not be a happy place today.
Meanwhile another case in Italy currently lies dormant and has done for some time. In March it was suggested that, given a European Court has ruled there was no systemic copy of intellectual property, the case would likely collapse. The latest ruling would seemingly reinforce that idea.
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