Judge refuses to fast-track Ryanair ‘screen scraping’ case

Judge says it is hard to understand why airline had not progressed similar cases

The Ryanair case will now proceed via the ordinary High Court list.

The Ryanair case will now proceed via the ordinary High Court list.

 

Ryanair has failed to have a case over alleged online “screen scraping” admitted to the fast-track Commercial Court. The case will now proceed via the ordinary High Court list.

Screen scraping involves the copying data from one website for utilisation in another without the authority of the website owner.

Ryanair has brought a number of such actions over the last 10 years in Ireland, the judge who heads the Commercial Court, Mr Justice Brian McGovern, was told on Monday.

The judge refused to allow Ryanair have its latest case against an online travel agency based in Bucharest, Romania, SC Vola.Ro SRL, to be transferred to the commercial list. which means it will now go through the normal High Court list.

The judge said that for a company which prides itself on on-time flight arrivals, it was hard to understand why Ryanair had not progressed some of the other proceedings it had brought over alleged screen scraping.

One set of proceedings, against companies called Billigfluege/Ticket Point Reiseburo and On the Beach Ltd, had gone to the Supreme Court on the question of which jurisdiction the cases should be heard in. The court found, in 2015, it was Ireland and the cases had to go back to the High Court for determination.

Martin Hayden SC, for Ryanair, argued the difficulty for his client was in trying to get the cases on. That was why it was seeking that this one be admitted to the fast-track commercial list. While it was not an indictment of anyone, the Commercial Court was the only division of the High Court capable of dealing with it in good time, he said.

Mr Hayden rejected claims his client had delayed in bringing the case saying the airline first became aware of Vola.Ro in early September. He also said Vola.Ra had deliberately not stated how long it had been offering Ryanair flights. Ryanair established a base in Romania last year, he said.

Outstanding cases

Cian Ferriter SC, for Vola.Ro, opposed entry of the case to the Commercial Court on grounds of delay by Ryanair in bringing the case.

His client has been operating throughout the years since Ryanair started a campaign against a number of similar outlets over alleged screen scraping. There had been a half dozen other similar cases brought by the airline since 2008 and it beggared belief that it was only this year that Ryanair had become aware of Vola.Ro, he said.

Those other cases are still outstanding and Ryanair had not progressed them, he said.

Mr Justice McGovern said it was a case in which he would exercise his discretion not to admit it to the commercial list.

It was hard to understand why other similar cases had not been progressed by Ryanair, he said. He also had to take account of limited court resources and he saw no particular urgency to this case.

Among the orders and declarations Ryanair seeks are injunctions restraining the defendant from using the airline’s website in breach of its terms of use and restraining it from infringing its registered trade marks.

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