Posted by Anna Plank.
On February 7th, Capitol Forum (whose headquarters is in Washington DC) sued Blomberg (whose headquarters is in New York). In the physical lawsuit, Capitol Forum enhances on its business model by saying, “[our] reports are extensively researched and carefully written, often the product of months of work, and [our] subscribers rely on these reports to make investment and business decisions.” Bloomberg’s net worth is 57 billion dollars, and (as found on their website) they “deliver business and markets news, data, analysis, and video to the world, featuring stories from Businessweek and Bloomberg News.” While Bloomberg has a larger global presence, both companies are business news outlets that specialize in reporting accurate, detailed information about the business world.
However, Capitol Forum claimed (within their lawsuit): “(1) copyright infringement; (2) contributory copyright infringement; (3) misappropriation of proprietary information under the ‘hot news’ doctrine; and (4) tortious interference with contractual relationships, arising from Bloomberg’s illegal solicitation, receipt, and use of Capitol Forum’s copyrighted and proprietary reports.” The company claimed copyright infringement since all the articles and research that is carried out by Capitol Forum are their own materials. As such, they are the copyrighted products of Capitol Forum. Additionally, the “hot news’ doctrine” states that there is legal protection for works that have been published and have clear authorship as well as economic value that doesn’t diminish in a small period. This precedent was established in 1918 through International News Service v. Associated Press. Their fourth claim focuses on the relationship the company has with their paying customers. If their customers see that the articles are being outsourced to other, FREE distributors than they are less likely to continue their membership with Capitol Forum.
While it seems Capitol Forum has sufficient grounds for their lawsuit, the Columbia Journal Review claims, “the Second Circuit rejected a misappropriation claim filed by Barclays, Merrill Lynch, and Morgan Stanley against a financial news site called Theflyonthewall.com.” Although Fly was taking these companies financial reports and republishing them, they did so completely under jurisdiction since they were giving all credit to each respective company. This lawsuit between Capitol Forum and Bloomberg seems to have a similar set up; however, since the hot news doctrine was put into place in 1918, before the dot com bubble exploded on the internet, it makes sense to begin to look at this law in a new light.
In conclusion to the lawsuit, Capitol forum demands for the court to declare that Bloomberg has indeed engaged in all activities listed and ask for compensatory damages in the amount of 150,000 dollars for each act of infringement. Additionally, Capitol Forum requested for a trial by jury and not by arbitration. As of now, there has been no update or response to this lawsuit, but it certainly has the potential to swing either way.
Anna is an accounting and IT major at the Stillman School of Business, Seton Hall University, Class of 2022.