Sunday 24 June 2018

Expedia lashes out in Ryanair US legal action

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has long battled so-called screen-scrapers
Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has long battled so-called screen-scrapers
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Expedia has blasted Ryanair's attempts to prevent the US internet travel giant from having a so-called 'screen-scraping' case dismissed.

Ryanair has sued Expedia in Seattle in the case, but also launched related legal action against the online travel agent giant in Dublin.

The pair have been at loggerheads since 2016 and the Seattle lawsuit was launched in 2017.

The airline has claimed in the US case that Expedia uses automated computer programmes to 'scrape', or capture fares from Ryanair's website before selling them to Expedia customers who don't then have to visit the Ryanair site to make the airline ticket purchase.

The airline, whose CEO is Michael O'Leary, generated 27pc of its €6.65bn in revenue during its 2017 financial year from the sale of ancillaries.

Ancillary revenue includes sales from anything from coffee and sandwiches to passengers during flights, to car hire and hotel rooms via its website as customers are booking seats.

If passengers bypass the airline's website by buying screen-scraped tickets, Ryanair loses a sizeable opportunity to make additional revenue.

Expedia, which also owns brands such as Travelocity and Hotels.com, has previously claimed that Ryanair cannot recover any losses it may have incurred under the US Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) that the airline has relied on for claiming in the United States that it has been injured by Expedia's alleged actions.

"Ryanair identifies no statutory language showing that the CFAA's private right of action provision permits suits for injuries abroad," Expedia has told the US court.

Expedia added: "Ryanair's argument is that alleged screen-scraping of foreign computers that allegedly caused foreign losses to a foreign plaintiff somehow amounts to domestic injury.

"Not a shred of authority supports this theory."

Expedia has also insisted that Ryanair's own website says that use of that website is governed by Irish law.

"Ryanair does not dispute that its terms of use state that Irish law applies to those who use its website," Expedia has told the Seattle court.

"Its arguments for why it may invoke United States law are erroneous.

"Under Ryanair's terms of use, wherever a suit may be filed, Irish and not United States law governs," Expedia has insisted in its efforts to have Ryanair's case against it thrown out.

But Ryanair has continued to argue that even if had brought its legal action relying on its own terms of use, that the United States "would still be an appropriate forum" for the action.

"Expedia respectfully requests that the Court dismiss Ryanair's complaint with prejudice," the internet giant added in court documents.

Ryanair has previously taken other successful cases against so-called screen-scrapers.

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