An F1 CAD

A claim, for equitable and contractual breach of confidence and copyright infringement by F1 Force India against two companies which operated rival Team Lotus, has been upheld by the High Court. Force India has entered into a formula one car development agreement with two of the defendants who specialised in aerodynamic design. Computer-aided design (CAD) was undertaken but after the agreement was ended the defendants did design work for a rival team. To save time their aerodynamicists used the Force India CAD files. The judge found that the defendants had infringed copyright by using electronic design copies which incorporated a substantial part of Force India’s designs. However, employees had misused the confidential files only by using them as a shortcut and had not reproduced the information in their new design. Equitable compensation for misuse was awarded on the basis of estimating what fee the parties would have negotiated for such a shortcut at the time. This case is a reminder that the outcome of such actions can be difficult to predict because it can turn on facts which the claimant does not know at the start of litigation.

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