NZ software exporter wins injunction against rival in California court

Maximum Availability gets favourable initial court ruling

Auckland-based software exporter Maximum Availability has won a preliminary injunction in a Californian court and is chasing damages against a much larger United States-based rival which it accused of distributing false information about its business. Maximum Availability — which employs 20 staff in Auckland, Wellington and overseas — sells software that helps hundreds of businesses in more than 40 countries back up data stored on IBM computers. The US Federal District Court found Vision Solutions, a subsidiary of privately owned Thoma Bravo, had falsely claimed Maximum Availability did not provide around-the-clock worldwide support and that 80 customers had replaced Maximum Availability's software with an alternative product made by Vision Solutions. Vision Solutions was ordered by the court to write to its more than 400 employees and to business partners telling them not to repeat the claims. Thoma Bravo is a US$2 billion (NZ$2.8b) private equity firm which owns a portfolio of companies. Maximum Availability chief executive Allan Campbell says the claims were "very harmful, unlawful and left us with no option but to take measures to set the record straight". "We are very pleased to get [the injunction] because it does stop people from further disseminating the information. It is a big deal for us because we are a relatively small New Zealand company dealing with a very large organisation." A hearing on the damages claim could be a year away. Maximum Availability hopes to get a better sense of the losses it may have incurred when Vision Solutions is ordered to release documents pertaining to the case. It was premature to comment on whether the claim might be settled out of court. Mr Campbell says the incident should not put off other Kiwi software firms from trying to make a go of it in the United States. "The US market is fairly competitive, [but] these things can happen anywhere in the world", he says. "It is the first time we have come across anything quite as blatant. "We have a huge number of customers and business partners in the US that we get on pretty well with." Vision Solutions spokeswoman Debbie Madoni-Lewis was quoted by a specialist US publication as saying the court order was preliminary and that it believed the lawsuit was without merit.

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