Forensic computing provided decisive evidence in a recent High Court action by British Midland Tools, a leading manufacturer of tooling for the automotive industry. Vogon International, the global leader in computer investigation and data recovery, was called in to help investigate the alleged theft of electronic copies of vital engineering drawings by a former director and members of staff who had left British Midland Tools to join Midland International Tooling Ltd; a rival start-up which had begun to plagiarize business from British Midland Tools valued at around 3 million.
Vogon International assisted British Midland Tools solicitors in the search and seize order at the site of Midland International Tooling. Vogons investigators took a complete image of the entire contents of Midland International Toolings AutoCAD (engineering drawing software) system, providing an exact replica of the system at the time the process was carried out.
Having already taken an electronic reference copy of British Midland Tools drawings, Vogon investigated both sets of drawings at its laboratories in Bicester, Oxfordshire. Whilst the initial investigation revealed no real problems, a different picture was revealed when the drawings were converted into common formats. Vogons investigators discovered that drawings found at Midland International Tooling contained one of British Midland Tools address blocks, the original of which had been overwritten and replaced with the address of the new company. Further investigation found that two pages of British Midland Tools quality manual had been found in the slack space of Midland International Toolings computer.
Remarkably, at the eleventh hour, the defence presented Vogons investigators with floppy disks, purporting to be Midland International Toolings original drawings on the original disks, which had allegedly been in existence since 2000. However, using their business contacts with Sony, the manufacturers of the disks, Vogon was able to establish that the floppy disks had not been manufactured until 2002 meaning that nothing short of a miracle would have proved the drawings to be original.
In court the Judge concluded that the drawings had been deliberately copied from British Midland Tools computer to the Midland International Toolings computer, as part of the overall setting up of a rival business. The Judge found in favour of British Midland Tools and made an award for damages and all costs.
Commenting on the case, Tony Dearsley, Senior Computer Investigations Manager at Vogon International, said: We have a proven track record of recovering vital evidence which could not have been found using conventional techniques. Our investigators are frequently called upon to provide expert testimony in circumstances requiring an objective and independent opinion on complex technical issues. Our experience shows that businesses need to take greater steps to protect their valuable intellectual property.