If you own a website and you want to prevent your content from being misappropriated by third parties, then you’ll be cheering for Ryanair as Michael O’Leary takes on a German price comparison website. Áine Matthews rings the bell for round one.
Website owners often have to contend with the activities of third-party ‘screen-scrapers’, who use ‘web harvesting’ software to extract information from companies’ websites. But website owners are now in a stronger position thanks to a recent decision by Mr Justice Michael Hanna in the High Court in the case of Ryanair Limited v Billigfluege.de GmbH (26 February 2010). However, it should be noted that the decision is currently under appeal to the Surpeme Court.
Mr Justice Hanna’s decision relates only to a preliminary issue as to whether the case should be heard in Ireland or Germany. It is not a full decision on the allegation of screenscraping or the other issues that are before the court.
The court noted that it was a well-established general principle of law that parties to a contract cannot be bound by terms that they have not had the opportunity of reading prior to making the contract. But it added that this doesn’t mean that a party will not be bound because it has not read the terms.
Issues of ‘use’