Odyssey Marine Exploration (NASDAQ: OMEX) filed Amended Complaints on August 6, 2007 in three Admiralty arrest cases in response to Spain's Motions for More Definite Statements. The Company also filed Motions for Protective Order in all three cases to protect the confidentiality of the Preliminary Site Assessments, which include detailed information about the archaeological and exploration activities at the sites to date, and filed Motions for Preliminary Injunction in two of the cases.
As part of the amended complaints, the Kingdom of Spain has been added as a defendant in all three cases, with Odyssey seeking compensation for losses sustained through Spain's recent actions obstructing Odyssey's ability to conduct operations. Odyssey is seeking not only relief in the form of a set-off of any award Spain may ultimately receive on any shipwreck, but also affirmative relief for damages caused by Spain's interference with Odyssey's rights to all three sites. In its pleadings Odyssey refers to the activities in Spain during the past months regarding the illegal boarding and seizure of Odyssey's survey vessel, the Ocean Alert and the continued illegal effective blockade of the Company's archaeological recovery vessel, the Odyssey Explorer.
The Motions for Protective Order were filed to keep the preliminary site assessments under court seal to protect the security of the sites and to protect Odyssey's proprietary sources and methods from competitors. The motion requests that before providing the information contained in the reports to Spain, the Court require Spain's counsel and the Spanish authority taking control over the information to sign a Confidentiality Agreement. Among the reasons for this request is a history of repeated leaks of confidential information from some Spanish government agencies and the fact that Spain's counsel, James Goold, is the Chairman of an organization, the RPM Nautical Foundation, which is a potential competitor to Odyssey in the provision of underwater archaeological services to Government agencies.
"As demonstrated by the 109 page affidavit submitted last month to authorities, Odyssey has always practiced a policy of transparency and open communication with all governments interested in our deep ocean archaeological activities. We have invited the Kingdom of Spain to participate in our archaeological projects many times in the past, including the expedition that resulted in the discovery of the Black Swan site. We have made it abundantly clear that in each of the three pending cases, we did not operate in waters claimed by Spain, and that we have abided by all applicable legal requirements as set forth in the Law of the Sea Convention and the Salvage Convention," said John Morris, Chairman and CEO of Odyssey Marine Exploration.
"By properly arresting all three of these sites in U.S. Federal Court, we have shown that we respect the rule of law. The Court has assumed jurisdiction over the sites and Odyssey will work with the Court to protect the historical and archaeological value of the sites. After detailed research, we are now prepared to provide information about the sites to the Judge in each case, and it is the Judge who will decide which information is appropriate for release to any potential claimants," said Greg Stemm, Odyssey's Co-founder. "We continue to hope that Spain will recognize that we are acting in good faith and that we remain ready to cooperate with the Spanish Government on any sites that we discover that may involve Spanish heritage."
All complaints and motions were filed in the US District Court for the Middle District of Florida.