The legal dispute between Sportradar and Genius Sports is set to be decided by the Competition Appeal Tribunal in the UK, after the court ruled against the application by Genius Sports and its partner Football DataCo (FDC) to transfer it to the High Court.
Violation of UK and EU Competition Law
Sportradar filed a lawsuit against Genius Sports and FDC in March alleging the long-term agreement between the defendants breached UK and EU competition law, Chapters I and II of the UK Competition Act 1998 and Articles 101 and 102 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the EU.
According to the challenged by Sportradar deal, FDC, which is in charge of data distribution for the English Premier League /EPL/, the English Football League /EFL/, and the Scottish Professional Football League /SPFL/, signed in 2019 a deal with Genius Sports, namely the company’s sports betting division Betgenius, to make it an exclusive provider of live data from all three leagues to global sportsbook operators.
The deal made provisions for sub-licensing of live data collection and distribution by other data providers, subject to Betgenuis negotiating individual terms with each candidate, but the latter refused to enter into negotiations with the Swiss-based sports data provider.
Breach of Private Right Laws
On their part, FDC and Genius Sports filed counter-claims against Sportradar alleging breach of confidence and unlawful means conspiracy, related to the issue of in-staduim data collection. They requested the case be transferred to the High Court due to their claims falling outside of the scope of the Competition Appeal Tribunal.
According to Judge Peter Roth Sportradar claims refer to competition law and have to remain in the Tribunal, but he also ruled that the appropriate way to treat both the claims and the counter-claims was for a High Court judge to chair the case to have an option to hold a joint management conference, a common practice to avoid potential inefficacy by having two judges.
“We welcome the fact that the Competition Appeal Tribunal’s judgment has upheld Sportradar’s submissions, and that the competition law claim will proceed to be determined first and in the specialist forum.”David Lampitt, Managing Director, Sports Partnerships, Sportradar
Lampitt was satisfied to hear the court clearly state that the dispute falls within the scope of competition law and private law rights cannot decide an exclusive agreement in violation of competition law.
Genius Sports and FDC were satisfied that the court, while stating that Sportradar’s claims concern competition law, recognized that claims for breach of private law rights were intertwined with the dispute and require to be considered together.
“Genius Sports’ and DataCo’s connected arguments to be heard in the High Court concern Sportradar’s alleged trespass, rights infringement and breach of contract. These are cases that centre on the funding of sport and football leagues’ ability to participate in revenue from data collected on their events.”Joint statement, Genius Sports and FDC
The lawsuit was significantly delayed by the application from the defendants to have the case transferred to the High Court, but as this application has now been rejected in full, the case should progress to trial, Lampitt concluded.