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Force India launch legal case against rivals Lotus

Jarno Trulli in this season's Lotus car.
Jarno Trulli in this season's Lotus car.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Formula One team Force India launch legal action against rivals Lotus
  • Force India claim a "very serious breach" of intellectual property
  • Lotus announces that three Force India designers have joined their team
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(CNN) -- Formula One team Force India has launched legal action against rivals Team Lotus -- who are sponsored by CNN -- their chief technical officer Michael Gascoyne and aerodynamic design company Aerolab claiming a "very serious" breach of intellectual property.

The news emerged on the same day Lotus confirmed they had appointed three designers from Force India, as they look to improve their flagging F1 fortunes.

Force India say Aerolab utilized information garnered from their partnership to help with the building of Lotus' current car.

They claim components and tires licensed to them exclusively by Bridgestone were used to create the wind tunnel design of the Lotus T127 chassis.

A statement on Force India's official Web site said: "The Force India F1 Team confirms it has instigated UK civil proceedings against 1Malaysia Racing Team SDN BHD (a Malaysian company), 1Malaysia Racing Team (UK) Limited (Lotus Racing's parent companies), Michael Gascoyne and Aerolab SRL.

"Force India also confirms that a complaint for disclosure of confidential information was filed in December 2009 with the competent authorities in Italy and that investigations are being conducted.

"Force India believes that Lotus Racing, via its use of Aerolab and Fondtech facilities and data, has utilized and benefited from the use of Force India F1 Team's intellectual property, including components and tires exclusively licensed by Bridgestone to the Force India F1 Team, on its wind tunnel model design for the current Lotus T127 chassis without permission from the Force India F1 Team.

"Force India states these are very serious claims and therefore it would not be taking such action if it could not provide supportive evidence."

In a statement Lotus, whose sponsors include CNN, said Aerolab "vigorously denies any wrongdoing and has provided Lotus Racing with a full indemnity in relation to the claim."

In a separate development, Lotus announced three new recruits from Force India. Mark Smith is set to take over as the team's technical director, with Lewis Butler joining as chief designer and Marianne Hinson becoming head of aerodynamics.

Team owner Tony Fernandes said: "I am honored that these fantastic talents have put their faith in Lotus, and see the very bright future we have."