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Manchester firm beats US giant in court

Indie tech firm claims victory in trademark case

Published on August 24th 2010.


Manchester firm beats US giant in court

Manchester computer hardware trader M-Tech Data Ltd won a ‘David and Goliath’ High Court legal battle with American IT giant Oracle Inc.

Oracle, formerly known as Sun Microsystems, had alleged copyright infringement against M Tech when it bought some second-hand Sun hardware from a US dealer.

Under EC trademark law, it is an infringement to import goods bearing a trademark which were first marketed outside the EEA, into the EEA even if the goods are genuine.

M-Tech’s defence was that Oracle should not be allowed to enforce its rights in an abusive way. M-Tech, represented by the Manchester office of law firm Hill Dickinson, argued Oracle’s actions were aimed at stopping the legitimate trade in Oracle products, which is contrary to European Law.

M-tech also said that Oracle operates its business in an ‘anti-competitive’ way, which is a further breach of European Law. The first Judge to hear the case decided that the defences put forward by M-Tech could not succeed and awarded a summary Judgment against the company.

The Court of Appeal reversed the original decision, however, and said that not only does M-Tech’s defences have merit but also raise issues which may need to be referred to The European Court of Justice for determination.

Harvey Stringfellow, partner at Hill Dickinson, said: “This is a massive victory for my client, which is a relatively small company, against Oracle, which is a $123bn corporation.

“The Court of Appeal has acknowledged that the issues we have raised in this case involve questions of economic policy likely to affect the European Union as a whole. This decision is of importance to Trade Mark owners and Parallel importers across the whole of the European Union.”

M-Tech’s managing director, Steve Lichtenstein, said: “We may be a small company compared to Oracle but we will not be bullied. We believe Oracle have been using their trademark rights to scare independents like us out of the legitimate market in Sun products. We will continue our fight.”

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9 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

HowardSAugust 24th 2010.

Nice one Harvey!

AnonymousAugust 24th 2010.

Sun now Oracle have been using bully boy tactics for years,its fantastic when the good, hardworking and honest folk win now and again.
My faith in humanity and the British Judicial system is restored for now.John and David will be so dissappointed.

Leigh ScottAugust 24th 2010.

It always amuses me when legal firms shout from the rooftops that they have won against massively wealthy companies.

Surely the law is the law regardless of wealth or am I missing something?

Scott NeilAugust 24th 2010.

probably something to do w big firms being able to hire more lawyers etc, i suppose. you do hear of corporate cases and the bigger firm has just been able to splash cash on loads of different lawyers, one lawyer being employed just to research one area, another another, and so on.
the law should be the law, but justice isn't always blind, is it, i guess.

IanAugust 25th 2010.

To nitpick, Oracle bought Sun Microsystems...

John14798August 25th 2010.

If you believe that the law is the law regardless of wealth then you're definitely missing something

john deedscoteeeAugust 25th 2010.

So in a case the law changes according to wealth?

John14798August 27th 2010.

Yes, if you are caught speeding once too often and are poor, you get banned, if you are wealthy, you employ the services of "Mr.Loophole" who presents the court with a fairy story and you retain your licence. Same law, different result

Leigh ScottAugust 27th 2010.

Same law different justice I think you mean?

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