A dispute between Ryanair and a Romania-based online travel agency and a German internet travel technology firm over the practice of "screen scraping" must proceed on the basis of the High Court first determining issues of liability, a judge ruled.
Mr Justice Mark Sanfey made his ruling today in the airline's case against travel firm Vola Ro SRL and technology provider Ypsilon which centres on the alleged use of Ryanair's website data such as price and flight times by Vola for its own commercial purpose, known as screen-scraping.
Vola denies the claims and has brought a counterclaim seeking a declaration that certain acts of Ryanair constitute an abuse of what Vola contends is Ryanair’s “dominant position”. It also seeks an injunction "restraining such further acts by Ryanair”.
Ypsilon, which was joined as a co-defendant by order of the court, denies Ryanair's claims.
Ryanair asked the court to strike out the Vola counterclaim for failing to disclose a reasonable or sustaintainable cause of action and/or it was bound to fail and/or is frivolous, vexatious.
Alternatively the airline sought a stay on the counterclaim pending determination of its (Ryanair's) action or else that there be a modular trial with its case determined in the first module.
Vola asked the court to stay the Ryanair claim until its counterclaim is dealt with or alternatively a modular trial with its counterclaim dealt with first.
Mr Justice Sanfey said he was not disposed to striking out Vola's counterclaim. However, he said Vola will have to address queries raised by Ryanair as to the detail regarding its counterclaim.
He also found there should be a modular trial on the issues of liability in Ryanair’s claim against both defendants.
He believed that proceeding with Ryanair’s claim will focus the minds of the parties and ensure that this part of the litigation at least will proceed expeditiously to trial.
If Vola prevails in its defence of the liability issues, the counterclaim does not arise, he said.
If Ryanair is successful, the court will then hear argument as to whether it should make orders against one or both defendants immediately, or defer a ruling on the orders to be made until the determination of the counterclaim.