Elena Ambrosiadou, co-founder of Ikos Asset Management Ltd., won a U.K. court case brought by her estranged husband, Martin Coward, over who owns the computer software that runs the hedge fund’s trading platform.
While Coward wrote the original software, he did so as a member of Ikos, making it an asset of the Cyprus-based hedge-fund firm’s partnership, Judge Sarah Asplin wrote in her ruling handed down today. Coward sued his wife’s businesses saying he was the architect of Ikos’s success and owns the copyright for the $1.36 billion fund’s trading algorithms.
The couple’s relationship “turned toxic,” Coward’s lawyer Michael Bloch said at the trial. They have filed more than 40 lawsuits against each other in at least four countries amid accusations of stealing and spying.
“Unfortunately, their approach to giving evidence was tainted by the obvious and deep animosity and the extremely close correlation between their business and their personal affairs,” Asplin said in her ruling.
Today’s decision “vindicates Ikos’s defense of its lawful rights to its IP and strengthens the case for an overhaul of the European laws regarding protection of intellectual property,” Ambrosiadou, chief executive officer of Ikos, said in an e-mailed statement.
Ambrosiadou testified that she was responsible for building the business while Coward, who left Ikos in 2009, was part of the trading team. She was dropped as a defendant in the case before the March trial. Her companies counter-sued Coward for using Ikos’s software.
Coward is considering whether to appeal today’s ruling, his lawyers said.
“Coward is gratified that the judge found that he had written the software that he claimed to have written,” Liam Hemmings, a lawyer representing Coward, said in an e-mailed statement.
The case is: Martin John Coward v Phaestos Limited & Ors., U.K. High Court of Justice, Chancery Division, case no. HC10C02788