A printing company that claims Digital Broadcasting Corp. owes it $47,226 has asked a Fairfax County court to slap a lien on a home computer network called The Source, further complicating an already complicated series of claims to the potentially valuable asset.
The Source is a home computer facility that provides stock quotations, news, programs for personal accounting and a host of other services at a relatively low cost. The concept for The Source was developed by Digital Broadcasting, owned by a subsidiary called Telecomputing Corporation of America and ultimately transferred to yet another company called Source Telecomputing Corporation.
Last month the Readers Digest Association bought a majority interest in Source Telecomputing, believing it was buying control of a company that owned The Source. But an interest in The Source is being claimed by a variety of other parties, including the company that filed the lien.
The company, Trager Hadley Taft Inc., claims that Digital Broadcasting owes $47,226 for goods and services provided from August to November 1979. The company also claims that The Source was transferred wrongfully to Source Telecomputing in an attempt by Jack Taub, by Digital and by Telecomputing Corporation of America to evade Digital's creditors.
In a suit filed in Fairfax County Circuit Court, the printing company asked the court to declare the transfer void, asked for $250,000 in punitive damages from the three companies and Taub -- who owns a major interest in Digital and 49 percent of the stock of Source Telecomputing -- asked for a lien against the Source and asked that the court direct a sale of the assets to pay off the company's claim.
Taub and former partner William Von Meister are countersuing each other in federal court in Virginia, with Von Meister claiming that the court should rule on whether Digital or Source Telecomputing owns The Source. A batch of minority shareholders in Digital has made a similar claim that The Source belongs to DBC in still another suit.
Digital defaulted on a Department of Commerce guaranteed loan in 1979, and the government also has claimed a security interest in The Source.
An attorney for the Readers Digest Association, Timothy May, said that Readers Digest had no comment on the request for a lien or the charges in the suit. "Readers Digest can't do much more than wait for all the smoke to clear from all the various claims," he said. He added that Readers Digest has not been persuaded that The Source belongs anywhere other than in Source Telecomputing.