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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.

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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.