GNM legal action over 'database infringement'

Guardian News & Media has launched a legal action against two dating websites claiming they extracted thousands of profiles from its Soulmates online dating service.

The newspaper publisher launched its action against businessman Daniel Yorke and his companies Dating Network and X Factor Online Dating after being contacted by three members of its Soulmates service, in September last year, asking why their profiles were appearing on other dating sites.

According to a writ filed at the High Court, GMN claims that by November last year the dating sites had more than 9,000 profiles in their databases that were identical to those in Soulmates.

Use of the Soulmates profiles is a misrepresentation, the writ alleges, and calculated to lead people to believe GNM is involved in a commercial arrangement with the two dating sites, which it is not.

The writ claims the three complained of profiles were removed from Yorke's sites after GMN made contact but that other profiles remained accessible.

GNM's legal challenge says it owns valuable goodwill in the database, which now numbers 146,692 profiles, as a result of which it is seeking damages under the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1997.

The publisher is seeking injunctions preventing further infringements and from its content being "passed off" by the other dating sites. It is also seeking an order forcing Yorke to hand over all items whose use would breach the injunction.

GNM said it planned to provide the court with confidential details of revenue generated from the site.

A GNM spokeswoman told Press Gazette: "Guardian News & Media issued a claim in the High Court of Justice in London on 18 March 2010 against Dating Network Limited, Xfactor Online Dating Limited and Mr Daniel Yorke.

"The claim is for infringement of the Guardian's database right in its database of Guardian Soulmates profiles.

"GNM takes the privacy of Guardian Soulmates members extremely seriously and is demonstrating its commitment to members by pursuing this matter at the highest level.

"GNM is seeking an expedited judgment to ensure that this matter is resolved quickly and the defendants are prevented from using Soulmates members' profile information any further."

Yorke declined to comment.

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