Dr. Ranke


The Racing Partnership Ltd vs Sports Information Services Ltd, judgment of the Court of Appeal, Civil Division of 09.10.2020:

Today we would like to draw your attention to a noteworthy judgment of 09.10.2020 of the Court of Appeals (UK) in relation to the protection of sports data, based on a dispute between The Racing Partnership (TRP) and the Sports Information Service (SIS).

The lawsuit, originally brought by TRP, sought to protect the exclusivity and commercial value of its racing data (known as “Raceday Data”). TRP was formed by Arena Racing (the owner of a number of UK racecourses) and other independent UK racecourses to collect and market Raceday Data i.a. to international bookmakers. SIS, a producer and distributor of data and audio-visual content, provided an alternative “unofficial” data package for races at Arena Racing tracks. The data package was based in part on sports data that SIS had obtained under its contract with service provider Tote. Tote had contractually guaranteed SIS the lawful use of the sports data.

In this context, the Court of Appeal held in a footnote that Tote, in collecting and then using information for a purpose that Tote was not contractually authorized to do, violated the organizer’s property rights. In addition, according to the ruling, the Raceday Data – at least in its specific compilation – qualifies as confidential information because it represents commercial value to bookmakers for the short period of time after it was created until the event is broadcast.

The majority of the judges did not see any violation of the confidentiality requirement under English law in the specific case. For this, SIS lacked the subjective facts. Accordingly, SIS could not recognize that Tote breached confidentiality vis-à-vis TRP. However, the judges considered SIS’s actions to constitute a “conspiracy to infringe by acting unlawfully” under English tort law. Knowledge of the unlawfulness of the act was not considered by the Court of Appeal to be necessary for the fulfillment of the offence, in line with the judgments (Churchill v Walton [1967] 2 AC 224 and Belmont Finance Corp v Williams Furniture Ltd (No2) [1980] 1 All ER 383).

The judgment of the Court of Appeals thus represents (at least for England) a further milestone for the protection of sports data of event organizers. For further information please contact us.