BSkyB sues over 'sale of decoders': Employee accused by broadcaster

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The Independent Online
THE SATELLITE television broadcaster BSkyB is suing an employee who it alleges has been selling unauthorised signal decoder cards, writes Robert Cole.

The company contends that John Hogan, employed as business development manager for North- west England, conspired with others to defraud the broadcaster.

It alleges that Mr Hogan and three other men wrongfully interfered with its goods - the decoder cards. It also alleges that the men sold the cards without authority and committed a breach of the Copyright, Design and Patents Act of 1988. BSkyB also alleges breach of contract and breach of confidence by Mr Hogan.

All subscribers to Sky need a decoder card to activate the satellite receiving equipment. Authorised cardholders are charged according to the kind of television programmes they receive.

BSkyB claims that a batch of 1,000 cards was intercepted and Mr Hogan, with Andrew Parsons, Robert Fodor and Stephen Gallimore, conspired to sell the cards to unauthorised third parties in the UK and on the Continent.

BSkyB alleges that faxed invoices were sent to customer addresses in Gibraltar and Germany.

BSkyB also gives details of how the income from each unauthorised card was allegedly split - pounds 10 each to Mr Hogan and Mr Parsons, pounds 8 each to Mr Fodor and Mr Gallimore and pounds 7 for the retailer. A typical authorised subscriber may pay pounds 15 a month for Sky services.

BSkyB and two co-plaintiffs - Sky Television and Sky Subscriber Services - claim damages for the cards they allege have been passed on, and also exemplary damages.