Aston Martin came under scrutiny in May this year recently when it presented a very different looking AMR22 for the Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona with a significant change in its design compared to the car that it raced for the first five Grand Prix of the 2022 season.
The new car design bore some striking similarities to the design of the Red Bull car. Red Bull made some strong statements raising concerns about possible theft of its intellectual property.
Aston Martin responded to these accusations and indicated that the company had been independently working on its designs for a substantial period of time before the car was presented. Red Bull was not satisfied with the response and said that it would conduct an internal investigation and claimed it had software tools that could disclose any evidence of wrongdoing.
The basis for the suspicion was that fact that some high profile staff had left Red Bull to join Aston Martin.
Formula One is a very unique environment for these types of disputes, because all teams have to submit detailed technical data to the sport’s governing body, the FIA. The FIA looked into the matter and have now ruled that no wrong doing occurred.
This issue relates to a company’s trade secrets and ensuring that their secrets are kept secret. Of course, one of the main risks is employees leaving and taking these secrets with them.
Any company should protect trade secrets by documenting them, by controlling and limiting access to them and by ensuring that a legal framework is in place before sharing such secrets with any employees.
It appears to be just as important to be aware that incoming employees may know secrets from previous employment.
It therefore critical, perhaps as part of staff induction, to educate new employees of the need to respect the Intellectual Property of past employers and third parties, and to ensure that they are not consciously or subconsciously bringing with them any IP from their past jobs that could cause problems.
If you need any advice or assistance regarding trade secrets, or other intellectual property, please contact email@example.com