IKOS Co-Founder Seeking Ownership Of Firm's Algorithms

Dec 22 2011 | 11:00am ET

IKOS Asset Management co-founder Martin Coward's lawsuit against his former firm, claiming ownership of the firm's proprietary codes, is alive and well.

The Financial Times reports that Coward is pursuing his claim against the firm, headed by his estranged wife Elena Ambrosiadou, in the British courts. Coward claims that he wrote IKOS' proprietary algorithmic trading software, which the firm used under an implied license based on its being a family business.

IKOS has countersued, one of many legal actions in the acrimonious split between Coward and Ambrosiadou, claiming that Coward's code was written in his capacity as a firm employee, making the systems entirely the firm's.

If Coward wins his case, the court could order Cyprus-based IKOS to return or destroy its copies of the software, according the FT.

For its part, IKOS issued a press release last week saying that Coward "already tried to abandon his claim to ownership of the [intellectual property] in England in May," but that "for the benefit of its investors, the IKOS board responded by insisting that this issue be tried by the English courts." IKOS added that it "looks forward to the court dismissing [Coward's suit] in its entirety."

Coward has also claimed an ownership stake in IKOS itself and is preparing a hedge fund of his own called Dormouse. IKOS has sought to stop Coward, arguing that he plans to use its proprietary code at the new firm. The dispute between the spouses, which began in 2009 when Coward quit after Ambrosiadou fired his research team, has seen litigation from Cyprus to London, as well as claims and counterclaims of spying, stealing and all manner of other misdeeds.

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