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Rescue hopes for beached UK firm BitArts

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Hopes are growing that a buyer might be found for UK security developer BitArts Ltd after cash flow problems forced the Nottingham-based anti-piracy software firm into administration last month.

"The firm went into administration because of short-term funding problems rather than more fundamental problems with its business. Nothing is confirmed but we're hopeful of finding a buyer," said a spokesman for Northampton-based HW Fisher which was appointed administrator for BitArts. London-based insolvency agency Amco is handling the sale. Although nothing has been finalised HW Fisher said it was optimistic that a deal can be thrashed out that will allow BitArts to continue in some form. "There's been a lot of interest," the HW Fisher spokesman said.

Bits and pieces

BitArts was founded in 1998 and specialised in anti-piracy technology for PCs and later mobile devices. Its technology development was led by CTO (and later chief security officer and chief architect) John Safa, a former software cracker (poacher) turned game keeper. The firm is best known for racking up the column inches with the rather obvious observation that Windows XP's product activation had been cracked only hours after the product was release in October 2001.

Latterly the firm has become focused on projects such as developing license management and DRM (Digital Rights Management) technology for mobile gaming applications. BitArts said it had 10,000 customers in more than 65 countries including Philips, Siemens, Barclays, Honeywell and Hewlett Packard. BitArts poached the head of anti-piracy in Microsoft's games studio division, Robbie Booth, to run its US operation in November 2004 when it opened offices in New York and California.

Lock out

At the time of writing BitArts' Nottingham office remains closed but its website remains up and running. BitArt's Safa declined our request to comment on the problems that lead to the firm's collapse into administration. ®

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