ITAC launches libel proceedings against Microsoft

ITAC, the UK distributor accused by Microsoft of importing software from the Middle East, has launched libel proceedings against the software giant. ITAC claims that accusations by Microsoft that it had acted as a ‘rogue trader’ are groundless.

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By  Stuart Wilson Published  February 12, 2005

ITAC, the UK distributor accused by Microsoft of importing software from the Middle East, has launched libel proceedings against the software giant. ITAC claims that accusations by Microsoft that it had acted as a ‘rogue trader’ are groundless. According to ITAC, the ‘rogue trader’ accusations appeared on the Microsoft Corporation website and were circulated via an e-mail titled ‘media alert’ to the UK IT trade channel. Microsoft claimed that ITAC acted in cahoots with rogue authorised distributors in the Middle East to import Microsoft software into the UK and announced its intention to sue for US$7m in damages. ITAC issued the following statement outlining its position on the case: “Despite the fact Microsoft presented these allegations to the media as if they were proven, not one piece of evidence has been produced in support of their claim.” “In view of the serious allegations made against them, ITAC (UK) and their directors have issued proceedings for libel against Microsoft Corporation and Microsoft Limited, along with certain other companies and certain individuals employed by those companies,” the statement continued. The original dispute between ITAC and Microsoft is centred on the issue of alleged copyright and trademark infringement. ITAC strongly denies any infringement occurred and claims that the allegations made in the media by Microsoft ‘go way beyond what is due to be contested in court’. William Lister, a partner from law firm Pannone & Partners, based in Manchester in the UK, acting for ITAC (UK), said: “It is quite clear from Microsoft’s publicity machine that they are seeking to litigate the disputed issues in the public arena rather than in a Court of law, which is the proper forum for such a dispute.” With Dubai-based distributors claiming that Microsoft is now planning an in-depth channel audit, it remains to be seen whether the ‘rogue authorised distributors’ in the Middle East that ITAC is alleged to have purchased the software from will be reprimanded or stripped of their right to resell Microsoft product. Recent personnel changes within Microsoft’s small and midmarket solutions and partners (SMS&P) team in the South Gulf may also come under increased scrutiny as the case develops. Despite repeated requests, Microsoft Middle East has so far refused to comment specifically on the legal action against ITAC and the implications for its Middle East distribution channel.

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