PacNet, Catcha legal battle may be settled out of court

The impending legal battle between regional Internet Service Provider (ISP) Pacific Internet (PacNet) and Catcha.com Pte Ltd may be settled out of court, a PI spokesperson said in a telephone interview.

The impending legal battle between regional Internet Service Provider (ISP) Pacific Internet (PacNet) and Catcha.com Pte Ltd may be settled out of court, a PI spokesperson said in a telephone interview.

The legal proceedings began in December 10, 1999, when Nasdaq-listed PacNet filed a writ of summons with the Singapore High Courts alleging that Catcha--a dotcom that runs a network of localized portals in Southeast Asia--used content created by the former without consent or attribution.

Catcha is alleged to have taken the content from PacNet's Movies Online, a database of movie schedules in Singapore, and its restaurant guide, Tatler Top 125 Restaurants.

According to court documents obtained yesterday, PI's lawyers sent a letter to the Registrar of Supreme Courts on April 11 stating that both parties "are presently negotiating a full and final settlement" of the case.

"As these settlement negotiations involve the preparation of corporate documents, we estimate that parties herein will only be able to execute the relevant deeds, undertakings and/or resolutions on or before the end of April 2001 and or early May," the letter noted.

A PacNet company spokesperson said that the discussions are still underway, but could not commit to when PacNet expects to conclude the out-of-court settlement.

The spokesperson also noted that the ISP expects to receive damages "in both monetary and in kind". However, she could not provide any financial value to the compensation.

In PacNet's first quarter (ending March 31, 2001) financial report, the company noted that it "does not warrant that such negotiations would bring about a successful out-of-court settlement between itself and Catcha", but noted that should negotiations fail, "PacNet will apply to the High Court for a fresh trial date as soon as practicable".

When contacted for comments, Catcha CEO Patrick Grove replied: "We do not comment on legal matters."

As reported earlier, Catcha said it generated revenues between S$111,500 to S$131,700 in the first quarter of 2001 and expects "very strong" earnings for this quarter. PacNet, meanwhile, posted a S$6 million loss in its first quarter, and noted that it is aiming for profitability by end of 2002.

Overnight, PI shares rose US$0.09 to US$4 on the American bourse.

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