SpicyIP Tidbit: Formula One, Chess and IP


This probably comes a tad bit too late because the mainstream media has already reported it. Force India, the Formula One racing team owned by the chairman of United Breweries Group, Mr. Vijay Mallya, has initiated legal proceedings in the UK against a rival F1 team, Lotus Racing (also known as 1Malaysia F1 Team) for infringement of its intellectual property rights in the VJM03 wind tunnel model (A wind tunnel facility is used to determine, among other things, the distribution of velocity and pressure in a scaled-down model of an object).
According to Force India, the cause of action arose when Lotus tested its T127 chassis in a wind tunnel facility provided by Aerolab SRL, the said facility being an alleged replica of the wind tunnel design developed by Force India. Consequently, Aerolab too is one of the defendants in the proceedings.
This case promises to be an interesting one for techies and IP afficianados, so we will keep our readers posted on the developments.
Our ex-teammate Mihir Naniwadekar has brought to our attention another instance where sports and IP meet (Thanks Mihir!). The Bulgarian organizers of the Anand-Topalov World Championship match have taken the German company Chessbase to Court for violating “copyright rules” of the tournament  for transmitting live the moves of the tournament. A similar action by the organizers against Chessbase was reported by SpicyIP last year.
One doesn’t think there is a copyright in the moves and scores, but we do have an Indian precedent where the Madras High Court has recognized the presence of a narrow quasi property right in “hot news” and “textual rights” in time-sensitive information (this is similar to the take of US Courts in NBA v. Motorola case). This was recognized by Justice Banumathi in a case involving the issue of existence of textual rights of tournament organizers in SMS alerts for the 2006 India-Pakistan one-day cricket series.
We have been trying to get our hands on this judgment of the Madras High Court, but it appears the judgment is an “unreported” one. We request our readers to pass on a copy if they have one.  

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