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Goliath Dis-Advantage-ed 1 July 2002 Edition
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One of the things that the Net has become famous for is the way it gives the little guy so much power, and the way in which the big guys have taken so long to get to grips with its intricacies.

Well this may not be a pure Internet story, but it's certainly a hi-tech David versus Goliath saga which shows that bullies aren't always well accepted in the hi-tech arena...

It's a tale of two companies who have been fighting over the trademark "Advantage"

The little guy is Advantage Computers Ltd who, many years ago -- long before the dot-com boom -- registered that trademark and set about selling PCs, developing software, web-sites, etc.

Some years later, when the Internet, web design and e-commerce became hot properties, a bunch of high-fliers decided that they kind of liked the name "Advantage" too -- so they formed Advantage Group and filled it with lots of investor capital.

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Now Advantage Group was a *big* company with lots of cash and it rapidly bought up lots of smaller "trendy" companies such as PEC, Glazier Systems, etc.

It also eventually got into e-commerce, web-design and lots of other new areas -- branding them all with the name "Advantage".

One small problem though -- Advantage Computers were still the registered and quite legitimate holders of the Advantage trademark.

So what do you do when a great big listed company with cash coming out of its ears decides to effectively stomp all over your trademark?

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Given that the big guy was alleging that it was Advantage Computers that were "passing off", there was really only one course of action that could be taken -- let the courts sort it out.

Believe it or not, Advantage Group alleged in court that, despite the fact Advantage Computers held the registered trademark concerned, it had been "passing off" -- creating confusion in the marketplace.

Advantage Group also called for that legally registered trademark to be expunged, or at least amended so that it didn't encroach on activities being conducted by them.

However, Advantage Group's best plans came massively unstuck last week when the court's decision was handed down.

In essence it says that Advantage Group must take a hike and that it's attempts to scuttle Advantage Computer's rights in respect to the trademark are without merit.

Yes.. the little guy scored a victory and the big guys have been left with some rather expensive egg all over their faces. Not only have they lost a very expensive legal action -- but the courts have now said they must stop infringing the little guy's trademarks and ordered the:

"obliteration of the trade mark Advantage from all advertising, promotional material and the [Advantage Group's] websites in respect of goods and services specified in registered trade marks 222333 and 222341;"

Now, if I were a shareholder in Advantage Group I'd be banging some heads and asking why the company decided to use a name that had already been registered as a trademark by someone else. Particularly in light of the company's lacklustre performance.

Oh that dot-com boom has a lot to answer for eh?

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