Intellectual Property: Caring is Not Sharing

Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains, which makes engines for the Mercedes Petronas team has formally filed a lawsuit against one of its Formula One engineers Benjamin Hoyle, for disclosing confidential documents to a competitor. Hoyle joined in 2012 as one of the 4 Performance Application team leaders in the company and was set to leave at the end of 2015 and intended to join Ferrari after his contract. The suit alleges that he searched and saved files including a race report from Hungary 2015 Grand Prix, mileage and damage data relating to Mercedes F1 engines and files containing code required to decrypt raw race data files. Mercedes claimed in the filing that “Mr Hoyle and potentially Ferrari have gained an unlawful advantage”.

Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains founded back in 1983 (previously known as IImor Engineering and Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines) is a British Formula One engine manufacturer, owned by Mercedes-Benz. Only four manufacturers- Mercedes, Ferrari, Honda and Renault supply engines to the entire Formula One grid which costs approximately 17 million pounds ($ 25.5 million) a team, per season. Therefore it comes as no surprise why Mercedes have taken such swift and stern action against Hoyle to protect their high performance secret. As we all know, by the introduction of the new V6 turbo hybrid power units that replaced the old V8 engines, Mercedes ascended in the F1 ranks with the last two drivers titles being won by Britain’s Lewis Hamilton and the Mercedes team winning the 2015 constructors’ championship against Ferrari, by 275 points.

According to Bloomberg, Mercedes wants the return of all documents and information, payment of its legal fees, and is seeking to block Hoyle from joining Ferrari or any other F1 rival until after the 2016 season. “Legal action is underway involving Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains Ltd and an employee”. “The company has taken the appropriate legal steps to protect its intellectual property” said a team spokesperson. But according to Ferrari, Hoyle “never had a contract” and will not be joining the team ahead of 2016.

However, this was not the first scandal in the F1 world . There was a similar controversy in 2007 with engineers Nigel Stephney and Mike Coughlan and this incident was known as ‘Spygate’ or ‘Stepneygate’ which involved the illegal sharing of secrets between Ferrari, McLaren and Renault.

Authored by Anjali Santosh.

Contributed with the support of the Mechanical and Automotive Patent Division of BananaIP in India.
For further information on  Mechanical and Automotive Patent law in India, write to [email protected].
Sources- here and here

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