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Dell sues Tiger for reselling old boxes as new

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Dell is suing a former licensed US reseller, TigerDirect.com, claiming "repeated and blatant violations" of its resale contract, including trademark infringement, misleading representation, unfair competition, and false advertising.

In an April 17 lawsuit filed by Dell in New York district court, Tiger is accused of - among many other things - selling old and out-of-date Dell computers it purchased from other resellers while claiming they were brand new and shuttled directly from Dell. Tiger was also fingered for telling customers the antique boxes were covered by Dell warranties when the warranties had expired long ago.

Furthermore, the Round Rock PC giant accuses Tiger of using a modified Dell logo on its website that "mimics and bastardizes" the Dell trademark.

The complaint claims Dell's attempts to contact Tiger with its grievances were partially or completely ignored. In some cases, Dell says, Tiger would partially address a complaint "only to embark on other acts of infringement and false representations virtually immediately thereafter."

Tiger Direct was an authorized reseller of Dell products until May 2007. But according to the complaint, while Tiger was bound by the terms and conditions of a Dell contract, it violated the agreement by calling itself a "Dell SuperStore," a "Dell Monitor Shop," and a "Dell representative."

During that time, Tiger also allegedly advertised that it was selling "Brand New DELL PCs At Blowout Prices," when the merchandise was actually "old, outdated and no longer sold by Dell."

Dell claims it had received emails and telephone calls from customers asking how Tiger could possibly sell Dell computers at such a bargain and demanding their sales rep match Tiger's prices.

Apparently, the final straw was Tiger falsely representing on its website that Dell would provide three months of support for any Dell product sold by Tiger, when the warranties for some of the products had expired.

After numerous complaints, the lawsuit alleges, Tiger revised the notification to indicate the systems were covered by a "limited warranty." But it wasn't until the user clicked on the link for full information, Dell says, that Tiger actually explained the PC is covered by a third-party provider.

Dell's more recent complaints involve Tiger using a logo that allegedly infringes on the Dell trademark. Dell claims Tiger uses a logo that's entirely too reminiscent of the Dell logo, only without the company's official slanting letter "E."

Round Rock said it sent a cease and desist letter to Tiger on December 17, 2008 regarding the logo — and five more in succession - but to no avail. The complaint said the only reply Dell has received was on January 12, 2009 from Tiger's in-house lawyer saying, "I'm sorry for the delay in responding. We will review and get back to you shortly."

Dell wants an injunction on Tiger using any of its materials, the destruction of all computers parts and accessories with Dell logos, unspecified damages, and recovery of three times the profits Tiger has made for its alleged wrongful actions.

A copy of the lawsuit is available here. (PDF) ®

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