Misappropriation of Hi-Tech Secrets in F1, my fave.

In April 2007 an Italian court convicted two of the high crime of stealing Ferrari technical data and providing it to Toyota F1.  German police arrested the former head of Toyota F1 and others, but there cases await the outcome of appeals from the Italian court’s convictions.

Then, in an unrelated May 2007 incident, the manager of a copy shop in Woking tipped police that a woman was copying hundreds of pages of Ferrari F1 technical documents.  (Give that man box seats to this year’s Italian GP at Monza).  The woman, Trudy Coughlan, is married to the chief designer of McLaren-Mercedes F1, the main rival to Ferrari in this year’s races.  He was booted, and called before the High Court in the UK. About the same time, the Chief Engineer of Ferrari F1 was let go, accused of passing the 780 pages of design documents to the McLaren designer.  He faces charges by Italiam prosecutors.  Then too, a strange white foreign substance earlier discovered in the fuel tank of the Ferrari race car, was reported to be detergent, and it is rumored that the accused engineer tried to sabotage the Ferrari’s performance at the recent British GP.  To me, this is way more interesting that theft of formulae for pertochemical intermediates, even more compelling than classic Spy vs. Spy comic strips from Mad Magazine.

Here’s a procedures that weren’t heard about in our law school.  Search warrants overseas can be executed by private parties, rather than the police.  Ferrari agents got to search the home of the McLaren designer, where the stolen secrets were found. The High Court in the UK ordered the McLaren designer to explain how he came into possession, and assessed him the legal fees incurred by Ferrari.  The designer agreed to provide an affidavit and other information, but on the condition that the affidavit would not be disclosed to Italian authorities.  That’s like being arrested in D.C., after a search by a private litigant, being forced to incriminate yourself, but the D.C. court seals the affidavit so that authorities in other states cannot prosecute you.  It was published in this morning’s Italian newspapers.

The wording of denials is always more fun to dissect that terms in a patent claim.  The principal of McLaren F1 insists that their car has ‘no Ferrari technology’ used on it.  How can he know that, unless he’s completely familiar with all the details in the 780 pages of stolen design information?   Techno-auto-inspectors will tear apart the McLaren searching for ‘fruits of’ the Italian Stallion.  There intrigue, inside jobs, sabotage, espionage, and really really fast nice cars.