High Court Orders Cessation of Twitter Intellectual Property Theft

A landmark legal case has led to the High Court ordering a company to delete comments it made on social networking site Twitter.

The background to the high profile legal proceedings was that Instant Offices Ltd had unlawfully created web content by copying parts of the website of competitor officebroker.com.

Instant offices Ltd were ordered, by consent, to delete the content from its website and also to delete Tweets which referenced the copied content on the social networking site after Twitter screen shots were submitted as part of the proceedings. Instant Offices Ltd settled the dispute by paying a five figure sum in compensation to officebroker.com.

officebroker.com had been forced to take the legal action after spotting articles authored by its team posted on rival Instant Office’s Twitter page with links to its website.

Unique website content is increasingly important to online businesses as search engines such as Google rank sites by how much unique content they contain and some sites can be ranked lower or even blacklisted altogether if they are found to contain duplicate content.

Instant offices Ltd said in defence that the articles had been copied and pasted by an intern without the knowledge or consent of management.

The court order required Instant Offices Ltd to remove all unlawfully copied articles from its website and to destroy any hard copies that had been made.

The order also prevents Instant Offices Ltd from copying any further officebroker.com content without prior permission or to publish anything produced by officebroker.com as their own work.

Central to the claim submitted to the court was that officebroker.com invests considerable resources into the production of unique web content and also compiles and publishes review data based on the UK office market.

The company became suspicious when its rival published content which referenced data which officebroker.com themselves had painstakingly compiled over several months.

A spokesman for officebroker.com said: “We pride ourselves on the quality and content of our research into the commercial property market so we could not just stand by and allow our work to be blatantly lifted by a competitor.

“We are very pleased with this court order which demonstrates the law’s protection for online businesses and the unique content we generate at considerable expense.”

Posted by Jo Disney on: Wednesday, 2 March 2011 at 12:02 PM

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