Hamish Fletcher

Business reporter for the NZ Herald

Court dismisses US firm's F&P law suit

Justice Hansen. New Zealand Herald Photograph by Natalie Slade
Justice Hansen. New Zealand Herald Photograph by Natalie Slade

The Court of Appeal has dismissed a US software company's claim against Fisher & Paykel Finance, including for breach of copyright.

The dispute, between San Francisco-based Karum Group and FPF, has been before the courts for eight years and had its genesis in the New Zealand firm purchasing another company called Retail Financial Services in 2004.

FPF, a subsidiary Fisher & Paykel Appliances which operates the Farmers store card and Q card, assumed this firm owned its own credit-management system software - called CMS - but it infact had used it for ten years under licence from Karum Group.

Karum claimed FPF was operating this software without a license and issued High Court action but the parties reach an agreement where FPF would pay fees while it developed its own software system.

When the licence expired, Karum moved to cancel the agreement because of alleged misrepresentations by FPF. It issued High Court proceedings seeking declaration of valid cancellation of the settlement and damages.

But the High Court's Justice Rodney Hansen dismissed all of Karum's claims of misrepresentation and separate claims for infringement of copyright and breach of confidence.

Justice Hansen said that "contrary to the suspicions harboured by Karum, FPF was never motivated to appropriate CMS secrets".

"FPF took all reasonable steps to accommodate Karum and to comply with its contractual and broader legal obligations," the High Court judge said.

Karum appealed all of the High Court's findings but these were dismissed last week by the Court of Appeal Justices' Rhys Harrison, Lynton Stevens and Forrest Miller.

- NZ Herald

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