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M-Tech Data: Grey import battle with Oracle has ruined us

Manchester-based firm shuts up shop after being 'crippled' by legal costs

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M-Tech Data's boss has claimed the "crippling" legal bill for its spat with Oracle over allegations of parallel importing left management with no option but to shut up shop.

The Manchester-based distie was involved in a long running case with Sun Microsoftsystems, and subsequently the vendor's new parent Oracle over the importing of drives to the EU from China, Chile and the US.

The Supreme Court ruled in Oracle's favour in June, dismissing M-Tech's defence that the enterprise vendor had withheld the serial numbers database which made determining provenance of kit impossible.

Howard Lawton, M-Tech director claimed: "Effectively Oracle put us out of business".

He said the operation had been "in decline" since the legal wrangling first began in 2009.

"Once we'd lost the case we had no where else to go, the costs crippled us and we couldn't find a way forward," he told The Channel.

Lawton did not detail the exact costs but described them as "substantial".

The court battle shifted in Oracle's favour in 2009 and then in 2010 the Court of Appeals upheld M-Tech's claim that it had been unable to verify where the kit was initially sold. At the time, the court ordered the vendor to repay M-Tech's costs.

But in the final twist in June this year, the Supreme Court ruled that the most important factor was that M-Tech had infringed Sun's trademark. At the time, Harvey Stringfellow, lawyer for M-Tech told The Channel that he was "shocked and disappointed" by the ruling which he said would have a "major impact on the independent [traders]".

Pete Broadbent, administrator at business advisor Duff & Phelps is handling the M Tech case, and a creditors' meeting has been called for 17 August with a view to liquidating the distributor.

M-Tech was established in 1994 and supplies IT systems and components from vendors including HP, Cisco, IBM and Lenovo. Interestingly it no longer includes Oracle/Sun in its portfolio.

Oracle was unavailable to comment at the time of writing. ®

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