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By | Brid-Aine Parnell 27th June 2012 15:48

UK Supremes back Oracle against reseller who brought Sun kit to EU

What happens in China stays in China. Until Larry says

Oracle has won a UK Supreme Court ruling in its long-running battle with dealer M-Tech Data that upholds the database-maker's right to be the first to bring its gear to EU markets.

The case was originally brought by Sun Microsystems, which sued M-Tech in 2009 for importing Sun drives into the EU after Sun had only sold them in China, Chile and the US.

Another chapter in 2010 saw the Court of Appeals uphold M-Tech's argument that Oracle – which had acquired Sun that year – withheld the serial numbers database from partners so it was impossible to ascertain provenance of kit.

Oracle was ordered to repay costs of £85,000 which M-Tech had originally coughed.

The judgment today reverses the Court of Appeal ruling that went M-Tech's way.

The Supreme Court said in its judgment that the policy of allowing the trade-marker to market goods in the EU first – even if it had sold them elsewhere already – was "economically controversial but legally well-established".

The Supreme Court said that even if Oracle withheld serial numbers it wouldn't be a defence of M-Tech's behaviour.

"We are not concerned in these proceedings with business that M-Tech have been prevented from doing, still less with business that other traders have been prevented from doing," the ruling said.

"We are concerned with business which M-Tech have done in infringement of Sun's trade marks. It is not a defence to proceedings brought on that basis that there is other business that M-Tech have been prevented from doing by Sun's arguably unlawful policy of withholding information."

The court also backed Sun on trademarks. M-Tech tried to argue that Sun can't enforce its trademarks in the EU because it was violating the laws governing free movement of goods in the bloc.

"On the agreed facts, the disk drives were never marketed in the EEA until they were imported by M-Tech without Sun’s consent. The only right that Sun is seeking to enforce is the right to control the first marketing of goods in the EEA and the exercise of these rights affects only the entry of goods onto the EEA market and thus does not engage the principle of the free movement of goods," the court said.

The Channel was awaiting comment from M-Tech's lawyer Harvey Stringfellow at Hill Dickinson LLP at the time of going to press. ®

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