Danish media group OFiR thought it was onto a good thing when it linked its recruitment site direct into lists of jobs in competitor StepStone’s German site. Then Osborne Clarke’s European network took up the counterattack for StepStone in the German courts.
Topic: Site links
Who: StepStone and OFiR
When: February 2001
Where: Netherlands and Germany
Danish media group OFiR owned companies with on-line recruitment portals in the UK, Germany, Denmark and France. When searching the OFiR site, job hunters were guided via deep links to job vacancies on the German website of competing on-line recruitment agency StepStone. This process by-passed StepStone’s home page as well as banner advertising on the StepStone site. It also helped OFiR provide “substantiation” for its claim as to the number of jobs available on its own site. StepStone, using the services of Osborne Clarke, took action in the German courts for an immediate court order banning OFiR’s practice. The legal basis was infringement of database right and the injunction was granted.
Why this matters:
This is the latest in a line of European cases where unauthorized hypertext deep-linking into a site has been held an infringement of database rights. When EU Database Directive 96/9 was signed off, few expected that it would prove to be a powerful weapon against cyber-linkers, but reference to the definition of the “database” in the directive quickly indicates just how wide its potential application can be. “Database” is defined as any “collection of independent works, data or other materials which are arranged in a systematic or methodical way, and are individually accessible by electronic or other means.”