Panasonic has taken an Irish firm to the High Court for breaching copyright

The company says Toughbook & Diagnostic Ireland stole its intellectual property.

By Aodhan O'Faolain

GLOBAL ELECTRONIC GIANT Panasonic has brought High Court proceedings against an Irish-based firm over alleged breaches of its copyright and intellectual property rights.

The case relates to Panasonic’s ‘Toughbook’ brand of specialised laptop computers used in more extreme environments than standard laptops and in industries such as construction and emergency services. Sales are worth €240 million a year.

The Irish company involved is Toughbook & Diagnostic Ireland Limited, which is involved in the sale of computer equipment in Ireland and is based in Cork.

Barrister Stephen B. Byrne, counsel for Panasonic, told the court that the Irish company was using the name ‘Toughbook’ in its title which it was not entitled to do.

He said Toughbook & Diagnostic Ireland Limited has also allegedly been operating two specific websites using the word Toughbook without Panasonic’s permission.

The websites contained references to the Toughbook and Panasonic brands, again without the plaintiff’s permission.

Byrne said Panasonic asked the defendant to deactivate the websites but despite assurances that they would be deactivated no steps had been taken by the defendant to cease its infringement of Panasonic’s intellectual rights.

He told Justice Eileen Creedon that Panasonic was concerned that the operation of the websites would cause confusion and damage the electronic giant’s reputation.

Byrne said there was a lot of negative commentary in the public domain about what was being seen as an apparently related company to Toughbook & Diagnostic Ireland.

It had been reported that a firm calling itself Tough Tech Direct Limited was seeking a 10% upfront payment from customers seeking to buy computer hardware from it.

Once money was paid over it was reported that Tough Tech Direct Limited could not be accessed anymore.

As a result Panasonic was asking the court for an injunction preventing what it claims is ongoing infringements of its copyright and intellectual property.

Judge Creedon granted Panasonic Corporation and a subsidiary, Panasonic Marketing Europe GMBH, permission to serve short notice of its action against Toughtech & Diagnostic Limited.

Leave was granted on an ex-parte basis, where only one side was present in court. The Judge made the matter returnable to a date next week.

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