who's suing who

The Muppets are suing a London-based publishing company "for infringing the plaintiff's copyright in the artistic work `Kermit' ".

The Jim Henson Company, named after the late creator of the Muppet television characters, is seeking an injunction and damages from Avalanche Publishing of 483 Green Lanes, Palmers Green, London, together with James Clynch and Giordano Corrado, of 69 Dunraven Drive, The Ridgeway, Enfield, Middlesex.

Kermit is the figurehead to the whole Jim Henson group, a media business based in Melrose Avenue, Hollywood. The solicitors acting for the Henson group in London are Harbottle & Lewis.

The company's writ lodged in the High Court this week requests an injunction restraining the defendants from infringing the copyright on the lovable frog, and stopping them from "passing off or enabling, causing, assisting, procuring, licensing or authorising others to pass off any tobacco tins, posters or other products as being licensed, authorised by or otherwise connected with the plaintiffs."

"Tobacco tins," eh? Whatever would Miss Piggy make of it?

Will Carling's old club NEC Harlequins is on the receiving end of a tackle this week from International Sports Group (ISG), a consultancy based at Mercury House, Knightsbridge, London.

ISG says that it "provided marketing advice and associated services" to Quins under an agreement dated 1 January 1997.

The consultants say in their writ that, under the agreement, Quins agreed to pay ISG commission of 15 per cent of the net revenue received from sponsorship arranged by ISG. ISG say they are also due 15 per cent of the cash value of any goods exchanged in return for sponsorship rights with Quins.

The club, based at The Stoop in Twickenham, terminated the agreement with ISG on 31 July 1997.

The writ goes on to claim commission involving the London Broncos, the rugby league club which paid to play on Quins' ground last year. ISG says it is "unable to ascertain the amounts that are currently due to it from the defendant, without access to the Defendant's books and records".

The consultants are also claiming pounds 5,287.50 for a report they prepared for Quins which they presented to the Club on 27 February 1997. ISG allege that "despite repeated requests for payment of the sums due ... the defendant has made no payment in respect of them".

ISG are being represented by Taylor Joynson Garrett.

Oh to be a commercial lawyer. The Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) went bust six and a half years ago, but the amount of work for m'learned friends produced by the liquidation of the bank just seems to roll on and on.

I was reminded of this by the transfer this week from the Queen's Bench to the Chancery Division in the High Courts of 31 legal claims, totalling pounds 30m, brought by the liquidators against ex-employees of the bank.

The liquidators Deloitte & Touche, led by Chris Morris, want the former employees to repay staff loans which the latter took out while working at the bank, before it was closed down by regulators. The solicitors Wilde Sapte originally lodged the writs on behalf of the liquidators several years ago.

Representatives of the ex-BCCI employees brought their own action in the House of Lords late last year, claiming that they had been rendered unemployable by the "stigma" of their previous employment with the crashed bank, and therefore could not repay the monies demanded by the liquidators.

They won their claim of "stigma" in law, but have yet to win an action in court, or "in fact". And so the dispute rumbles on.

This pales rather besides the liquidators' other outstanding legal claims for $3.5bn (pounds 2.1bn) against Price Waterhouse, BCCI's former auditors, and another $1.6bn against Ernst & Young, who were co-auditors until the mid 1980s.

Then there's the "Big One", as insiders call it: the liquidator's claim against the Bank of England for pounds 600m on behalf of 10,000 UK depositors of BCCI. Mr Morris & Co claim that the Bank is liable as a co-regulator of the crashed enterprise, and intend to take their claim to the House of Lords

Wilde Sapte and Dibb Lupton Alsop are representing the liquidators against the ex-employees, while Lovell White Durrant is handling the big stuff aginst the accountants and the Bank.

Tim Bamford of Charles Russell rang me this week to say he is on the point of filing a full defence against allegations brought by the Ministry of Sound against his client Lynn Cosgrave, a former director of the south- east London rave warehouse. Ms Cosgrave recently left Jamie Palumbo's outfit to join a rival company. Stand by for more details of this dance floor dispute next week.

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