Datawind, QUAD lock horns over dues

The future of Aakash tablet hangs in balance.

Datawind, the UK firm that devised Akash tablet, and QUAD Electronics Solutions Private Ltd, the Hyderabad-based firm that won the mandate for manufacturing of devices, have locked horns over alleged violation agreements.

After keeping silent for months, QUAD has refuted allegations of IP infringement and served a legal notice on Datawind for non-payment of fee and breach of contract. It claimed outstanding dues of $1.12 million.

“During the manufacturing phase, we have warned Datawind not to release the product as it doesn't meet the requisite reliability standards,” the company said here in a statement.

With respect to an IP infringement claim made by Datawind, QUAD said: “the Software and PCB Gerber's required to design a product were not given to QUAD. Therefore, there is no question of infringement by us since we were restricted only to manufacture as per the specifications and instructions received from Datawind.”

In fact, Datawind tied up with another vendor of QUAD based out of Hyderabad for manufacturing Aakash II. “They have been poaching talent from QUAD to adopt the expertise required to manufacture the product. QUAD is not designing or manufacturing Aakash II for Datawind,” it said, refuting Datawind's accusations.

Datawind argument

“QUAD breached Datawind's intellectual property, circumvented their relationship with IIT-Rajasthan, signed a direct MoU with them and then sold off their inventory in the open market. We have since appointed new partners to assemble the tablet,” a Datawind statement said.

It also claimed that QUAD had been paid for the units it delivered, except for the 600 units that remain unpaid by IIT-Rajasthan.

In response to concern about tardy customer response, Datawind would like to state that their toll-free number is working. “But since it receives almost 40,000 calls per day, there is often a logjam resulting in incomplete calls,” it said.

Ties

Asked whether these allegations and counter-allegations could rock the tie-up, a QUAD executive said the firm had no objection to continue the association as long as dues were paid.

kurmanath@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on April 16, 2012)
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