Who's suing whom: PGA tees off legal action against US golf promoter

THE PROFESSIONAL Golfers Association (PGA), which has more than 6,000 members worldwide and which represents over 2,000 trained and certified golf coaches in the UK, is suing an American firm for using the "PGA" name in this country.

The UK association has taken legal action against PGA Tour Inc of Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, for using the logos "PGA" and "PGA Tour" on golf clothing and other merchandise currently being sold in the UK.

The association says it was the first professional body to be formed for golfers anywhere in the world when it was founded in 1901. It was incorporated in 1984 and claims "PGA" has become recognised as a distinctive name or mark.

The PGA says the American firm is involved in the promotion of professional golf in the US, but has never done so in the UK.

The British association says it wrote to the American firm in July last year complaining about the alleged trademark infringement and asking it either to stop using the trademark or enter into a licensing deal with the PGA.

"No response has been received to such a letter," the association said, so it launched its writ against the Florida firm through the UK courts this month.

PITNEY BOWES, the American-owned postal franking machine giant, has launched legal action against four UK firms and six individuals over alleged misuse of confidential client information.

The company, which has a $4bn market in operating mechanical postal meters for businesses in the US alone, is taking action against firms in Liverpool, Bolton and Manchester.

The firms, which include Renshaw Birch of Oriel House, Oriel Road, Bootle, and FP Mailing Systems (North West) of Portland Street, Manchester, are accused of using information in breach of confidence as well as dishonestly assisting in breaches of confidence.

Pitney Bowes is also alleging that the defendants infringed the company's copyright.

The disputed information includes names and addresses of Pitney Bowes customers, what contract arrangements they have with Pitney Bowes, even down to what each customer's lease number is and the price paid for updating equipment.

The American company is seeking compensation, which could run into hundreds of thousands of pounds, according to observers.

The individuals being sued are Ian Harbdige of Warrington, Martin Dowd of Manchester, Mark Davey-Hayford of the Wirral, Michael Barker of Barkway, Hertfordshire, John Perrett of Bridgewater and Paul Ulett of Harrogate.

THE LIQUIDATORS of Winchester Commodities Group, the trading firm caught up in the Sumitomo copper scandal, have gone to the High Court in London to have the fees paid by Winchester to its solicitors, RD Black, reviewed.

Over half a million pounds worth of fees charged by RD Black between 4 February 1998 and 2 December will be examined by a court Taxing Master to decide whether they are too high or not. This is a routine procedure with large legal bills.

Winchester was co-founded by Charlie Vincent and Ashley Levett, who made pounds 25m each over a two-year period in the mid-1990s. The duo moved to Monaco before the scandal broke in June 1996.

Liquidators from KPMG were sent into Winchester Commodities after a Japanese group they traded with, Sumitomo, lost pounds 1.6bn and went bust.

Now KPMG has applied for taxation of RD Black's papers to decide whether the fees they charged for the work in that period were appropriate.

The liquidators will be holding their annual meeting for Winchester Group's creditors in London next month.

BRITISH AIRWAYS has fired off a writ at Ryanair over an advert the Irish airline ran in the Evening Standard this month which accused BA of being "EXPENSIVE BA--DS!"

The ad on 11 February compared midweek return fares charged by the two companies between London and Frankfurt, Genoa, Turin, Ancona, Biarritz and Dinard.

Ryanair claimed that its fare for Frankfurt started from pounds 69 compared with BA's pounds 374. The fare to Genoa started at pounds 129 for Ryanair, compared with pounds 560 for BA, the Dublin-based group claimed.

Last week BA responded by suing Ryanair for infringing its registered trade mark and accusing it of "publishing malicious falsehood" in the Evening Standard.

Ryanair, which advertises itself as "the low fares airline", is defending the action.

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