Ocean fertilization partners in court

The controversial ocean fertilization project and the future of its results is now before the B.C. Supreme Court.

The controversial ocean fertilization project and the future of its results is now before the B.C. Supreme Court.

On Jan. 3, Russ George and his firm, Ocean Pastures Corporation (OPC), filed a civil suit against the Haida Salons Restoration Corporation (HSRC), the Old Massett Economic Development Corporation, HSRC directors Jason McNamee, Cecil Brown and John Disney and two unknown defendants. The filing claims “OPC asserts an exclusive property right in, and lien upon, all use of the intellectual property and technology” and “any income derived therefrom”.

According to the filing, HSRC informed George on May 1 that the company was unable to pay rent on its office space, so he took possession of certain computers, assets and samples to prevent seizure by the landlord for non-payment of rent. But, George alleges, “at the last moment, Jason McNamee feigned objection to the safe keeping of samples by Russ George and OPC”. On May 10, HSRC was said to have passed a resolution to remove Russ George as a director that included allegation of theft of company property — but in the filing George said no proper meeting of the board was conducted and “HSRC could not terminate Russ George as a director”.

That same day, OPC legal counsel “demanded it be provided with the data derived from the project”,  “demanded that HSRC had no right to deal with the intellectual property or the information derived from the project” and “demanded that Russ George be advised of all dealings with third parties”. George claims HSRC made no movement on those demands between May and October, so on Oct. 28 legal counsel for OPC demanded “Russ George have access to all documents, information and records” pertaining to HSRC and that a director’s meeting be held so OPC could appoint a new HSRC director in place of Jason McNamee.

George claims those demands have not been responded to and HSRC has engaged in “substantial contract negotiations” with two unknown parties to continue HSRC’s work “to the exclusion of Russ George”. A Dec. 20 notice of a Jan. 4 HSRC board meeting stated HSRC would be discussing a carbon offset agreement with a company called Blue Carbon, a company George said he has no knowledge of, although that meeting was pushed back until Jan. 20. OPC sought to acquire information, documents and records regarding the nature of the agreement and the involvement of Blue Carbon, but did not receive a response.

Among the items George is seeking  in his filing is an order that HSRC provide free and unrestricted access to all business records, documents, information, emails records, bank records and dealings with third parties, an injunction against the use of the information or technology, an order that all data from the ocean fertilization project be copied to OPC for its own use and an injunction against HSRC entering into an agreement with Blue Carbon.

Also on Jan.3 , HSRC filed a suit against George and Ocean Pastures. That filing claims George “knowingly and willfully took the corporate property of the plaintiff for his own use … knowing full well that this was the intellectual property and proprietary interest developed and held by the plaintiff”.  The filings allege that the items “wrongfully converted for his own use” included all copies of data collected, company records and copies of company records, the data server, the physical plankton samples, an iPad, five laptops, a computer, two cameras, a hard drive containing all of the video records of the company and other company tools.

HSRC said it has demanded the items be returned, but allege George and OPC has refused to return them and “is  seeking to use this oceanographic data – in breach of fiduciary data for personal gain of the defendant, George, and without notice to the

plaintiff”.

The company said it is also concerned about what may or may not have been done with the information gathered through the ocean fertilization project.

“The defendants have clearly taken steps to disregard the plaintiff’s interest and may have engaged in commercial operation making direct us of the confidential information,” reads the filing.

HSRC is seeking a declaration from the court that it is the owner of the data, an order to return all of the assets it alleges were taken, an injunction preventing George and OPC from using the data or disclosing it to third parties and clarification on what has been done with the data.