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British Horseracing Board v. William Hill Organization

EU Case C-203/02, 2004 WL 2709083 (2004)

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British Horseracing Board v. William Hill Organization

Court of Justice of the European Union

EU Case C-203/02, 2004 WL 2709083 (2004)

Facts

The British Horseracing Board Ltd. (board) (plaintiff) was the governing authority of the British horseracing industry. The board and its affiliates compiled and maintained a database containing a vast amount of information useful to the industry, including the pedigrees of some one million horses and the names, locations, dates, eligibility criteria, entry fees, betting odds, and other details pertaining to races taking place in the United Kingdom. The board licensed the database to certain third parties, including Satellite Information Services Limited (Satellite), which was authorized to transmit information to its subscribers in the form of a raw data feed. William Hill Organization Ltd. (Hill) (defendant), a provider of bookmaking and online betting services, obtained database materials from Satellite’s raw data feed and used them on Hill’s websites. The information on Hill’s sites represented only a small portion of the information contained in the board’s database and was generally limited to the location, date, and time of certain races and the names of the horses running in them. Hill also arranged the information in a format that differed from that of the database. The database information that Hill used did not require substantial investment by the board to obtain, verify, or present that was independent of the board’s investment in creating the materials. An action was brought against Hill in the High Court of Justice of England and Wales, Chancery Division, alleging that Hill’s use of the racing data violated the board’s rights in the database. The court ruled in favor of the board, and Hill appealed. The court of appeal agreed with the lower court but referred the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union for guidance in interpreting the database directive of the European Union (EU).

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

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