The SPICE pipe-balloon testbed experiment, already delayed due to concerns about inadequate public consultation (see Lessons from the SPICE Delay, 10/15/11), has been cancelled amid an intellectual property dispute. From the information available, it appears that two individuals involved with the project, Peter Davidson of Davidson Technology and Hugh Hunt of the University of Cambridge, failed to disclose a patent application that, although filed prior to the SPICE project proposal, posed a potential conflict of interest and violated UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funding rules. The patent application pertains to particle delivery technology related to the field trial. According to team lead Matt Watson, "The details of this application were only reported to the project team a year into the project and caused many members, including me, significant discomfort."
Coincidentally, Davidson recently published an article on SAI balloon systems, and hosted a webinar on the subject this past Tuesday, the same day the SPICE cancellation was announced.