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LocalTel v. GreatXscape: so who won?

Two ISPs named Sue

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The slanging-match between Screaming.net and GreatXscape is growing ever louder and neither side appears to show any sign of developing laryngitis. Both sides are claiming victory after appearing in the High Court on Friday to settle a dispute between the two companies. LocalTel, the telco behind Screaming.net alleged that GreatXscape's claim to be the "UK's first nationally available free time online Internet Service Provider" was simply not true since it had launched its service in April this year. LocalTel threatened legal action against Manchester-based Telnet unless it removed its CDs from stores and altered the packaging making the claims. LocalTel also alleged that Telnet had been in breach of its copyright lifting wording from its T&Cs and FAQs. As part of its bid to stop GreatXscape from benefiting from what it alleged were bogus claims, LocalTel faxed the distributors of the GreatXcape's CD Roms warning them that legal action would be taken if they continued handing them out to the public. The Register understands that some of the CD Roms were pulled from the shelves of Allsports, one of GreatXscape's distributors although this was disputed by Telnet. In a counter move Telnet, the telco behind GreatXscape, alleged that LocalTel had "maliciously faxed" its distributors and called upon the High Court to issue a gagging order against LocalTel preventing it from taking similar action. The Register understands that Telnet's application was thrown out by Judge Parks on Friday. LocalTel then used the opportunity to tackle Telnet about its claims to be the "UK's first nationally available free time online Internet Service Provider". The Register understands that Judge Parks would not issue an order against Telnet on this matter. Instead, Telnet gave an undertaking to the court that it would change all its packaging by 15th September and that the existing CD Roms currently in stores would be handed out only if it carried a statement of clarification. This account of the outcome from the lawyer acting of behalf of LocalTel differs slightly from the account given by Ian Morris of Philip Conn & Co, acting on behalf of Telnet. He said on Friday that the court decided that Telnet was able to hand out the existing disks in the current packaging, however, he made no mention of the accompanying notice advising customers that GreatXscape was not the "UK's first nationally available free time online Internet Service Provider". To confuse matters still further, late on Friday afternoon Nigel Warr, the MD of Cheshire based telco GreatXscape phoned The Register to say that he'd won a legal battle in the High Court. "The judge kicked it out," he said triumphantly before announcing he was to launch a £10 million legal action against his Surrey-based rival. Warr said he believed GreatXscape had lost somewhere between 1,000 and 5,000 customers because of this "bun fight" and would seek damages accordingly. The Register was unable to contact Judge Parks or his clerk to find out what really happened on Friday. See also: Fight breaks out between rival telcos Screaming.net takes legal cudgels against 'copycat' ISP Daily Net Finance News from The Register

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