Judge Allows 2 Claims|in ‘Web-Scraping’ Case

     ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) – A federal judge dismissed the bulk of a lawsuit accusing an online event-planning service of “scraping” a rival’s database, but said the competitor could sue for Lanham Act violations and unjust enrichment.

     Cvent Inc. sued Eventbrite Inc. last May, claiming the company and unknown parties swiped its online database of meeting venues in various cities.
     U.S. Judge Leonie Brinkema threw out Cvent’s claims of computer fraud, breach of contract and conspiracy. She also dismissed Cvent’s requests for attorney’s fees and statutory damages.
     Brinkema found that Eventbrite did not have to hack into Cvent’s site to take the information, as the information was publicly available on the Internet “without requiring any login, password, or other individualized grant of access.”
     The opinion also makes it clear that the terms-of-use section of Cvent’s website is not accessible enough to constitute a breach of contract.
     But Brinkema did not throw out Cvent’s claims that Eventbrite violated the Lanham Act and unjust enriched itself by copying Cvent’s intellectual property and trying to pass it off as its own.
     The ruling points out that the U.S. Supreme Court has limited the scope of the Lanham Act to “tangible goods,” as opposed to ideas or concepts.
     “Cvent appears to have the better of the argument, as least insofar as its complaint does not assert that Eventbrite has passed off its ideas as its own, but rather that Eventbrite has re-branded and re-packaged its product (the CSN venue database) and sold it as its own,” Brinkema wrote (emphasis in original).
     “Thus, to the extent that Cvent is pleading its Lanham Act claim as an alternative to its copyright claim, it should be permitted to proceed,” Brinkema concluded.
     In its amended complaint, Cvent identified Stephan Foley as the computer engineer responsible for scraping the company’s database and then reformatting the material into Eventbrite’s layouts for its website.
     Brinkema noted that Foley is not a part of Eventbrite’s motion to dismiss.

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