Legal foes do Net deal

@Home inks an e-commerce deal with PC Connection, whose recent affiliate PCTV had sued the cable Net provider for trademark infringement.

Jeff Pelline Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Jeff Pelline is editor of CNET News.com. Jeff promises to buy a Toyota Prius once hybrid cars are allowed in the carpool lane with solo drivers.
Jeff Pelline
2 min read
When it comes to dealmaking on the Internet, even lawsuits can bring companies together.

One example: The @Home Network (ATHM) today said it had inked a big e-commerce deal with PC Connection (PCCC), whose recent affiliate PCTV sued the Net access provider for trademark infringement last year.

In its announcement today, @Home said the deal--its first with a computer reseller--will "span all divisions of the company" and "employ PC Connection's award-winning service and direct marketing expertise to create new and unique sales channels." The pact calls for PC Connection to be the "anchor tenant" in the Computer & Electronics section of the @Home shopping channel.

PC Connection's stock, which began trading publicly only last month, jumped more than 5 percent to a near record high in trading today. The company's stock jumped 15/16 to 18-9/16 today, near its record high of 22-1/8.

The announcement didn't mention the legal proceedings between the two companies, however. That detail was contained within an annual regulatory filing made by @Home two weeks ago.

The filing said that last July, PCTV filed a lawsuit against @Home in U.S. District Court in New Hampshire, alleging "trademark infringement and unfair competition based on the company's use of the @Home mark and requests damages and injunctive relief." PCTV produces computer-related television programs, including one called @Home.

In February, the document continued, @Home and PCTV entered into a settlement. The outcome: "PCTV assigned any and all right, title, and interest in the @Home trademark to the company and agreed to dismiss the complaint."

It added: "[@Home], in turn, agreed to enter into certain distribution arrangements for its @Home and @Work services with PC Connection, an affiliated company of PCTV engaged in the direct marketing of computer hardware and software; promote PC Connection on the @Home service; and make a one-time immaterial payment to PCTV."

Representatives for both companies confirmed the lawsuit. Tracey Turner, a spokeswoman for PC Connection, explained that PCTV and PC Connection were founded by the same executive team; PC Connection has since gone public.

"That's what brought the two companies together," Turner said of the legal case. "We're quite pleased to work with [@Home]."

The distribution deal was not finalized until after the suit was settled, according to an @Home spokesman: "That wasn't the genesis of the deal."

@Home is expected to post quarterly earnings later this week. Its stock rose 1/4 to close at 30-15/16 today.