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Ikos Co-Founder Sues Hedge Fund Over Software Copyrights

Martin Coward, the co-founder of Ikos Asset Management Ltd., sued his estranged wife’s businesses in a U.K. court over ownership of copyrights to computer software that runs the hedge fund’s trading platform.

Coward was the “architect” of the “bedrock of the family business,” he created with Elena Ambrosiadou, his lawyers said at the start of a three-week trial in London today.

“Practically all of the financial markets expertise at Ikos resided in Coward,” said Michael Bloch, his lawyer.

Ikos, a hedge fund with $1.36 billion in assets under management that uses computer algorithms to spot profitable futures markets trades, has been embroiled in litigation involving Coward and other former employees around the globe. The estranged couple, who started divorce proceedings in Greece in 2009, has filed more than 40 lawsuits against each other in at least four countries.

Ambrosiadou, who has been dropped as a defendant in the suit and is expected to testify later this week, has denied Coward’s version of events -- dating back to how the company was formed in 1995. The couple’s “relationship has turned toxic,” Bloch told the court.

Coward, who left Ikos in 2009, paid 50,000 pounds ($75,800) in damages and apologized to his ex-wife in January for providing divorce papers containing personal information to journalists.

Tracking Devices

Ambrosiadou “has tried to get Coward sent to prison,” for allegedly copying software, put tracking devices on his car and wire-tapped their family home, Bloch said.

Coward, who faces criminal charges in Monaco and Cyprus, was “caught red-handed stealing” the software, lawyers for Ikos said in documents filed at the London court.

Ikos counter-sued Coward for copyright infringement and breach of confidence for downloading the software described as the fund’s “crown jewels, on which the entire business is based,” according to the filings.

“Electronic theft laws need to be introduced in U.K. and Europe,” Ambrosiadou said in response to an e-mail requesting comment.

The case is: Martin John Coward v Phaestos Limited & Ors., U.K. High Court of Justice, Chancery Division, case no. HC10C02788

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