CHICAGO (CN) – The 7th Circuit revived the state-law claims of an Illinois businessman who claimed he was harassed and defamed for copying public dog pedigree information for his online dog-breeding database.
John F. Tamburo, owner of Man’s Best Friend Software, created an online database called The Breeder’s Standard. The program trolls the Internet for information about dog pedigrees and compiles it into a database format.
A Colorado breeder and two people who show dogs in Michigan and Ohio allegedly blasted Tamburo on their Web sites, accusing him of “theft,” “hacking” and “selling stolen goods.” They also called for a boycott of Tamburo’s products, according to the ruling.
A third dog shower in Canada allegedly threatened to expose Tamburo’s “sleazy methods” to dog breeders if he didn’t remove the “blatent (sic) theft of data” from his Web site in five days.
When Tamburo failed to comply, the Canadian man allegedly emailed people with online pedigree databases, saying Tamburo’s program contained “mined” data that had been “harvested” for improper commercial use. He also urged them to “band together to stop this theft” of their data, the ruling states.
Tamburo sued four individuals in Chicago Federal Court, along with the Australian software company Wild Systems Pty Ltd., which owns a program called Breedware. Tamburo said Wild Systems’ owner let the individual defendants post defamatory messages about him on its listserv.
He sued for federal and state antitrust violations, defamation, trade libel and civil conspiracy, among other claims.
U.S. District Judge Joan Gottschall dismissed the lawsuit for lack of personal jurisdiction, saying none of the defendants had strong enough ties to Illinois to support an Illinois lawsuit.
The federal appeals court agreed with respect to Wild Systems, but reinstated Tamburo’s state-law tort claims against the individual defendants, saying they had “purposefully directed” their activities in Illinois.
The court remanded, ruling that the claims would be most efficiently decided in Illinois.
“Although Tamburo could have sued the individual defendants in their home jurisdictions, that would have been cumbersome and impractical,” Judge Diana Skyes wrote.
“Neither Canada nor any of the states where the American defendants live has a substantial interest at stake here.
Sykes dismissed Tamburo’s antitrust claims as “woefully inadequate.”
The individual defendants are Steven Dworkin of Canada, and Kristen Henry, Roxanne Hayes and Karen Mills of the United States.