Bloomberg LP must defend Swatch analyst call case

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 30, 2011 8:03 PM
Bloomberg LP must defend Swatch analyst call case

By Moira Herbst

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bloomberg LP lost a bid to dismiss a lawsuit by Swatch Group AG that accused the news service of secretly recording an earnings conference call with securities analysts and giving a transcript to clients.

U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein in Manhattan ruled that the watchmaker's claim of copyright infringement was "sufficiently pleaded" because the recording met the standard of being fixed, independently created and possessing "requisite creativity."

"Because the authorized audio recording is entitled to copyright protection, and because the copyright claim is properly registered, I deny the motion in full," the judge wrote.

He directed both parties to appear in court on September 16 to discuss how to proceed.

Bloomberg representatives did not immediately respond to telephone and email requests for comment.

Swatch accused Bloomberg of tapping into its February 8 earnings call and providing a transcript that day to online subscribers, without permission in both cases.

The world's largest watchmaker said this occurred after it told listeners at the beginning of the call not to record it for publication or broadcast.

Swatch sought a court order directing Bloomberg to destroy its copies of the recording and transcript, as well as damages and other remedies for alleged "willful" infringement.

Bloomberg countered that Swatch had an obligation to be transparent and disclose financial performance information to everyone rather than select analysts.

Based in Bienne, Switzerland, Swatch is best known for its colorful plastic namesake watches, but also owns higher-end brands, including Breguet, Longines and Omega.

Thomson Reuters StreetEvents competes with Bloomberg in providing transcripts of corporate teleconferences.

The case is Swatch Group Management Services Ltd v. Bloomberg LP, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 11-01006.

(Reporting by Moira Herbst and Jonathan Stempel; editing by Andre Grenon)