Microdeal in court battle
TEN software houses are this week taking action in the High Court against a commercial software piracy racket, in an attempt to prove that software is copyright.
Cornwall-based games company Microdeal unearthed a tape piracy racket involving thousands of pounds worth of Dragon software being sold through classified advertisements in computer magazines.
Games such as Softek’s Ugh! and Microdeal’s Frogger and Cuthbert series were being copied on a large scale and offered to Dragon owners at a fraction of the retail price.
Dr Mohammed (a medical doctor) and his fourteen-year old brother T Mohsan, it is alleged ran a tape copying operation from four different addresses in the Blackburn area, selling not only sets of 35 games on a single C90 tape, but also utilities such as Kopy-key program copier and the Text-star word processor.
“Other companies apart from Microdeal and Softek who had games copied included Tandy, Cable, Dragon Data, Morrison Micros, Programmers, Guild, Romik, Quicksilva and PSS,” said Microdeal managing director John Symes.
At a private hearing on Monday, July 9, Microdeal obtained an Anton Piller search order and on Friday, July 13, Mohsan and Mohammed’s house at 24 Irving Place, Blackburn was raided and a number of boxes of tapes and duplicating equipment were seized.
An injunction also obtained by Microdeal to prevent Dr Mohammed from continuing to sell and advertise pirated tapes has been extended until a court hearing is held at the High Court in London on Friday, July 20. An application on Monday, July 16 for a similar extension to cover T Mohsan was refused
COMMODORE International is suing four of its former engineers — now working under Jack Tramiel at Atari. The suit, against former engineering director Shiraz Shivji and three others, Arthur Morgan, John Hoenig and Douglas Renn, was filed in Chester County, Pennsylvania on Tuesday, July 10th. The judge granted Commodores request for a temporary injunction.
The suit covers alleged theft in May and June, referring to secret material about a business machine based around the Z8000 chip planned by Commodore for next year. The action is seen as part of the increasing bitterness between Commodore and its former founder Jack Tramiel, whose company, TTL, has taken over Atari. Several former Commodore senior executives are now working for Tramiel, including David Harris, a former Commodore vice-president, now sales vice-president at TTL.
Dragon moves to Spain
THE future of Dragon Data, which has been in receivership for over five weeks, now looks settled.
The Port Talbot manufacturing plant will be closed, and a Spanish company, Eurohard SA, who exchanged contracts with Dragon Data two weeks ago, will take over manufacture of the Dragon machines. Eurohard operate from a site in Extre Madura near the Portugese border, a Spanish development area. Details of the deal are to be finalised this week.
Eurohard was set up with Spanish government aid specifically to build up the Spanish hardware industry. Before the receiver was called in to Dragon Data, Eurohard was negotiating with the company to gain a licence to manufacture Dragons in Spain.
Not all Dragon employees will lose their jobs, however. A new company, Touchmaster, is being set up headed by Brian Moore, ex-managing director and former marketing director Richard Wadman.
Touchmaster will provide after sales services and software support in this country.
GEC will continue the marketing of the Dragon machines in the UK.
Imagine in hands of Receiver
THE Official Receiver has now been called in at Imagine Software.
The company was wound up on Monday, July 9, at the High Court in London, after Imagine failed to pay creditors VNU, Business Publications £10,000 within a seven day time limit.
A creditors meeting has yet to be arranged, but until a receiver has been appointed, the Official Receiver in Liverpool is standing in.
But there is a long list of other creditors still waiting to be paid by Imagine including Kiltdale, a Gloucestershire duplication plant, Marshall Cavendish, still waiting for payment in the region of £250,000, Liverpool City Council, printers Henry Matthews and Son, United Arab Shipping, who own Tithebarn House, where Imagine occupied offices, Scatchards, a Liverpool wine merchant, where Imagine had an account and G D Studios, which produced cassette labels and artwork for the company. The total of debts from these companies is put at over £300,000.
Former Imagine directors Dave Lawson and Ian Hetherington — together with several ex-Imagine employees — are believed to be still continuing development of the two Megagames, for which they now own the copyright.
Bruce Evexiss is in negotiations with an un-named, non-software company in Liverpool, regarding employment of other former Imagine staff.
BBC stays with Acorn
A NEW four year contract has been signed between Acorn Computers and the BBC.
The agreement means that Acorn can continue to use the BBC name on its top selling product — the BBC Model B micro computer.
The signing also ends months of speculation that the BBC might take the opportunity presented by the expiry of Acorn’s existing agreements to include other manufacturers.
A number of companies including Sinclair and Dragon have in the past shown interest in gaining the lucrative BBC contract.
Acorn is planning to expand its manufacturing and distribution of the Model B machine. It has also begun an export drive to sell the machines in the US and the Germany and Benelux areas of Europe. Manufacturing facilities are being set up in Australia, India and China.
“Acorn is planning to develop more power add-ons for the BBC to take it into the 16-bit and 32-bit computer range,” said an Acorn spokesman.
“The BBC contract has become a very significant one for Acorn — in the beginning the Model B was seen as a fairly minor machine.”
Mastertronic takes over Carnell
MASTERTRONIC has come to the rescue of Carnell Software, who went into liquidation last month, (see PCW, 21 June).
It has set up a new company, Innovision to market Carnell’s Wrath of Magra and Black Crystal games. It is not yet known if Carnell’s Volcanic Dungeon is also included in the deal.
The two games will be sold at their original price — £11.95 for Magra, with the book included, and £7.50 for Black Crystal. These prices are the main reason Mastertronic will not market the games under its own name — wishing to keep Mastertronic as a budget-price software label.
“Stuart Galloway, Roy Carnell and Stephen Kirk will be programming for us as part of Innovision,” said Mastertronic chairman Frank Herman. “They will be producing adventure games, which we intend to market at full price.”
Thorn EMI buys stake in Inmos
THORN EMI has paid £95m for a 76 per cent stake in Inmos, the government supported microchip company.
It may also buy the remaining 24 per cent, currently held by the company’s three founders and its employees.
Robin Hood on the Spectrum
THE legend of Robin Hood has been turned into an adventure game by Nottingham software house Runesoft.
Robyne Hode has over 400 locations, set in Nottingham and Sherwood Forest.
“We did a great deal of research to make the locations as authentic as possible,” said John Flack of Runesoft.
“The city library had some maps, although none prior to 1610, so we consulted the Doomsday Book to see how the land would have looked.”
The game uses landmarks apart from Sherwood Forest — part of the adventure takes place in the cave system underneath Nottingham castle.
Robyne Node for the 48K Spectrum costs £9.95