A complaint was filed and entered into the system of the superior court of Jackson County, Ga., on Friday, Nov. 22, 2013, by Delta Wing, LLC, a business owned by Chip Ganassi, and Delta Wing Project 56, LLC, a business with multiple owners, including Ganassi and general manager Don Panoz.
The claim by DWP56 is that Don Panoz and the DWP56 consortium bankrolled the design, and therefore owns intellectual property rights, which they are seeking to license to automakers.
Last summer, Bowlby showed up as a Nissan NISMO employee and leading the ZEOD RC project, after having been hired by Nissan in 2012. That car is slated for the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans and again occupying Garage 56, as did the original Delta Wing.
The complaint names former Delta Wing designer and current Nissan director of motorsport innovation Ben Bowlby, Nissan global motorsports director Darren Cox, Nissan Motor Company, Ltd., Nissan Motorsports International Company, Ltd., Nissan International, S.A., and Nissan North America, Inc., and requests a finding of “temporary and permanent injunctive relief, interlocutory injunction, and damages.”
The complaint states: “This is an action for damages and injunctive relief arising out of theft of confidential and proprietary information, misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of contracts, unjust enrichment, fraud, and negligent misrepresentation. The Defendants have acted individually, as agents for each other, and in conspiracy with each other to commit the aforementioned actions, which have caused Plaintiffs damages and irreparable harm. ... Defendants have misappropriated the trade secrets owned by DW and exclusively licensed to DWP56 and used such information and opportunities to compete with DW and DWP56, causing irreparable and ongoing injury to Plaintiffs. Defendants have further breached their contracts with DWP56 and engaged in fraud and negligent misrepresentation directed toward DWP56, which have caused DWP56 significant damages”
Nissan's statement is: “The Nissan ZEOD RC is a new design. Nissan does not green light any projects which it believes will contravene third parties' intellectual property rights.”
This has me scratching my head ...
Bowlby was covered by employment agreements restricting him from revealing intellectual property developed by Ganassi/DWP56. Nissan surely has good quality lawyers who can spot such a problem from the outset, and they chose to hire Bowlby anyway. Ergo...?
At the same time, are triangularly shaped vehicles all that rare? In other words, is the DWP56 design all that original?
In the meantime - the ZEOD RC / Blade Glider - I've been meaning to write these up, and have neglected doing so. My apologies.