Judge rejects Ryanair’s pre-trial offer to dismiss Skyscanner’s counterclaim

Ryanair has failed in its pre-trial attempt to dismiss Skyscanner’s counterclaim and parts of its defense in a case brought by the airline alleging that the price comparison site was unlawfully using “screen scraping” data from its website.

In a lengthy ruling, High Court Judge Michael Quinn said it would be unsafe to grant Ryanair’s motion to have Skyscanner’s counterclaim and an antitrust defense dismissed.

Skyscanner and two related companies should be allowed to present their defenses and counterclaims at a full hearing of the trial in which the airline is seeking to prevent the defendants from allegedly facilitating the sale of the airline’s flights by other online agents such as lastminute.com and kiwi.com.

Ryanair alleges that Skyscanner uses automated software to obtain commercial earnings information such as air fares and flight schedules from the airline’s website. It says this is a violation of the terms of use of its website and its intellectual property rights.

Skyscanner denies being involved in the alleged activities and denies having offered Ryanair products for sale.

In its counterclaim, Skyscanner is seeking various explanations and damages for allegedly violating Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union by allegedly abusing the airline’s dominant position.

In his decision on the latest pre-trial request, Judge Quinn said Ryanair had claimed it was fundamentally inconsistent for Skyscanner to deny being involved in screen scraping, while at the same time alleging the airline violated Article 102 by not providing its flight details for purposes other than price comparison.

The judge said there is “no rule preventing a defendant from invoking alternative defenses.” He ruled that for the purposes of this preliminary application, Ryanair’s alleged screen-scraping activity could not be conclusively proven.

Mr Justice Quinn noted that the Screen Scraping Act is in a “developmental stage”.

“To expect the defendants to waive their right to provide the plaintiff with evidence of such a complex and serious allegation by resorting to an alternative conventional and permissible mode of pleading is a step too far,” he added.

He also rejected the airline’s application for a modular procedure that would have included dividing the procedure into defined phases.

The matter could now move on to a full “protracted” trial, he said.

https://www.independent.ie/business/irish/judge-rejects-ryanairs-pre-trial-bid-to-have-skyscanners-counterclaim-dismissed-42220104.html Judge rejects Ryanair’s pre-trial offer to dismiss Skyscanner’s counterclaim

Fry Electronics Team

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