Why Black Box and Continuant Are In Court with Avaya
Sept. 11, 2008 (Vol. 29, No. 18)
Have you lost track of these suits since we last reported on them? Don’t sweat it. Here’s a quick primer to get you up to speed:
Avaya first sued Fife, Wash.-based Continuant and its two sister companies in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey on June 2, 2006, charging that the maintenance providers misappropriated trade secrets, interfered with contractual relations and committed copyright violations by using Avaya PBX maintenance passwords without its permission.
Continuant countersued in August 2006, accusing Avaya of monopolization, attempted monopolization, “tying” and illegal conspiracy in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. Continuant also alleged injurious falsehood, plus tortuous interference with contractual relations and prospective business or economic advantage.
Avaya and Continuant heaped on allegations in a parade of complaints and counter-complaints since then. Avaya on April 18 asked the judge to dismiss six of Continuant’s arguments “to end further wasteful litigation.”
Judge Garrett Brown ruled in a 37-page opinion that Continuant can continue to argue three of its allegations: monopolization, attempted monopolization and illegal conspiracy.
Non-Compete Clause at Heart of Black Box Spat
Lawrence, Pa.-based Black Box filed a nearly identical suit against Avaya in December 2007, after Avaya allowed its reseller contract to expire without renewal on Sept. 8, 2007, effectively revoking Black Box’s permission to maintain Avaya systems [VR 1/3/08].
Black Box was a “platinum” Avaya BusinessPartner as late as January 2007, and spent more than $50 million from 2000 to 2005 to merge with at least half a dozen other companies that provided service to Avaya gear. It proclaims itself “the world’s largest dedicated network infrastructure services provider” with more than 175,000 clients and more than $1 billion in revenue for the 12 months ended March 31.
The now unauthorized maintenance provider intimates in its complaint that Avaya dropped it because Black Box once had resisted agreeing to a non-compete clause that prohibited it from offering competitive maintenance contracts to any enterprise buying maintenance directly from Avaya. (