16 May 2011 – In this month’s IP Bulletin we report on the Court of Appeal’s decision in Football Dataco Ltd & Others v Sportradar GmbH & Another which has resulted in a reference to the Court of Justice of the European Union (the “CJ”).
Football Dataco is engaged in the business of creating and exploiting certain data and rights relating to the playing of football matches organised by the Premier League and the Football League (the owners of Football Dataco). Football Live is a product compiled and licensed by Football Dataco and is a compilation of data about football matches in progress such as the time of goals scored, the goal scorers, penalties and when they were awarded, and substitutions (who was substituted, when and by whom). The data is collected mainly by ex-professional footballers engaged by Football Dataco on a freelance basis who attend the relevant matches for this purpose. Football Dataco claims to own both UK copyright and UK database rights in and to Football Live.
The defendants, Sportradar, provide a competing service called Sport Live Data which offers live data (including in relation to UK football matches). Amongst Sportradar’s customers are bet365 (a UK company) and Stan James (a Gibraltarian company) who provide betting services for and aimed at the UK market. The data making up Sport Live Data is stored on web servers in Germany and Austria, but can be accessed via links from elsewhere, including from the United Kingdom. Football Dataco claimed that Sportradar was copying its data from Football Live and was therefore liable for infringement of UK copyright and database right. The allegation of copying was denied.
Football Dataco commenced proceedings in the UK High Court in April 2010. In July 2010 the first Defendant sued the Claimants in Germany seeking, amongst other things, negative declarations that the activities of the first Defendant did not infringe any intellectual property rights of Football Dataco.