Who's Suing Whom: Computer boys battle for the rights to Lara Croft

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The Independent Online
LARA CROFT, the pixillated beauty of the Tomb Raider computer game, is at the centre of a tug of love between two computer companies. A subsidiary of the software group Eidos is suing Doncaster-based Fire International in connection with a device that allows players to cheat at the game.

The software is the latest in a new breed of best-selling, and perfectly legal, cartridges that give computer buffs a better chance to win at their favourite Sony Playstation games.

Fire International publishes a number of these gadgets under names such as "Cheatmaster" and "Explorer", and was allegedly planning one for Tomb Raider III, the new Lara Croft adventure. However, Core Design, a wholly- owned Eidos subsidiary, is seeking an injunction to stop Fire International from using the Tomb Raider mark in its cheat software.

The computer group wants the High Court to stop Fire from "passing off or attempting to pass off any computer games software and/or hardware" as Core's games through the use of the Tomb Raider name or mark.

In a writ lodged last week, Core claims that the use would be an infringement of its trademark and demands unspecified damages. It also wants the little software group to destroy or deliver up all the computer software which would breach the trademark.

THE CELEBRITY chef Marco Pierre White is embroiled in a legal row with the builders of the Titanic over the name of his latest restaurant.

The Belfast-based shipbuilder Harland and Wolff want to stop the enfant terrible of British cuisine from using the name and mark of the ill-fated vessel in his brand new London restaurant, jointly owned with the media group Granada.

The Titanic - housed in the former Regent Palace hotel near Piccadilly Circus - was opened last week by Meg Mathews, the journalist wife of the Oasis star Noel Gallagher, amid the customary media hype.

But the Northern Irish shipmaker's action is certain to spoil the party. In a High Court writ lodged last week, the company says that "Titanic" is its registered trademark.

It claims that by naming the posh eaterie after the ship, Mr White is infringing the patent. Harland is asking the judges to order the cook and Granada to destroy "all articles, documents or other materials" and to wipe out "all marks or designs" which could breach the trademark.

The builders of the ship, which sank on its maiden voyage in 1912, also want unspecified damages and have demanded an inquiry into how much money Marco Pierre White has made while using the name.

Harland's writ is the second wave in the legal storm engulfing the Titanic restaurant. Earlier this month, Marco Pierre White's rival Oliver Peyton took exception to the location of the restaurant just above his own super- trendy Atlantic Bar and Grill. The top restaurateur complained that customers get confused by the embarrassment of culinary riches, and issued a writ against the landlords who, coincidentally, are Granada and Post House Hotels.

THE TITANIC plot thickens with news that Rupert Murdoch's Twentieth Century Fox is claiming that Harland's trademark is invalid.

The maker of the Leonardo Di Caprio/Kate Winslet blockbuster maintains that the mark was not registered properly and wants it revoked.

The US film house alleges that the registration was in breach of the Trade Marks Act 1994. In a High Court application, it says that the mark was "devoid of distinctive character", was of "such a nature as to deceive the public" and was registered in "bad faith".

Twentieth Century Fox adds that the registration broke the law because the mark was "identical to an earlier trade mark which had a reputation in the United Kingdom" and was used for a different class of goods. The company also alleges that, due to the use made by Harland, the trademark "is liable to mislead the public".

Twentieth Century Fox is asking the High Court to rule that the trademark was "invalidly registered" or to scrap it altogether. It also want its costs paid by the Belfast shipbuilder.

THE PHARMACEUTICAL giant Pfizer is taking a hard line over its anti-impotence blockbuster Viagra.

The US company is seeking an injunction to stop a Dean Sithwentis, trading as Viagra-Plus of Wolverhampton, supplying any substance under the Viagra name. They also want to prevent him from using the name Viagra in any form.

The American giant also want to cause a few blushes among Wolverhampton residents. In a High Court writ, it demands that Mr Sithwentis "disclose the name and addresses of all persons, firms or companies from whom he has at any time obtained or received or to whom he has supplied" his Viagra- Plus.