Volume: 2 Issue: 3
The PGA Tour, the organiser of professional golf tournaments, has won a significant anti-trust dispute over the use of golf score data. In a March 31 ruling the US Court of Appeals Eleventh Circuit, upheld a Florida District Court judgment that the PGA had a valid business justification for refusing to supply to Morris, a US media company, free access to their real time scoring information.
The Court described Morris’s behaviour as a classic example of ‘free-riding’, the prevention of which, under anti-trust law, was a legitimate reason for refusing supplies.
Morris had complained to the court that the PGA Tour was abusing its monopoly power with regard to the scores.
Neil Baylis, Head of Competition, at Nicholson Graham and Jones, writing in this issue of World Sports Law Report said: ‘The European Court is likely to take a similar approach to that adopted by the US Appeals Court in the PGA case by imposing a very high evidential burden on any company that seeks to benefit from another company’s investment be that in the creation of sporting information or a distribution network. That said, such is the importance of the data in question and the financial rewards available from exploiting that data, that further cases in this area are surely inevitable’.
The PGA had developed the Real Time Scoring System (“RTSS”) based on a sophisticated computer system as well as a large number of trained employees and volunteers.