It has been 4½ years since Infogroup sued its former CEO Vinod Gupta and Database101 for infringing Infogroup’s database copyright and trademarks, unfair competition, false advertising and breach of various contracts. After leaving Infogroup, Gupta founded a set of competing companies with similar features and content as Infogroup. These include Infofree, DatabaseUSA, and AtoZDatabases. Database101 was held liable by a jury for $43.6 million and Gupta for $10 million.
According to Infogroup, the court held that “(i) Infogroup’s extensive processes of compiling its databases (data selection, refinement, verification, updating and user-friendly arrangement) were so sophisticated and value-enhancing, that the databases qualified for copyright protection and (ii) Gupta and DB101 had unlawfully passed Infogroup’s proprietary database off as their own.”
“The jury agreed that Infogroup’s industry leading techniques of database management qualified Infogroup’s database for protection under federal copyright law,” said Greg Scaglione of Koley Jessen, who litigated the case. “These verdicts are a testament to the extraordinary quality of Infogroup’s databases, and the company’s tenacity in protecting its databases, copyrights, trademarks and the market place from competitors’ misconduct.”
In 2008, Gupta was fired from Infogroup for leading a lavish lifestyle paid for by the then-public company. Soon after, Gupta founded Database101 and hired thirty employees away from Infogroup. Infogroup charged that Database101 stole the Infogroup database along with trade secrets. They also held that Database101 infringed on Infogroup copyrights and marks, mimicked Infogroup products, and implied that the two companies were affiliated in their marketing.
Scaglione told Law360 that “Infogroup has successfully protected our database copyright and have established legal precedent that a database compiled from facts is protectable under federal copyright if the compiler uses selection, arrangement or coordination of the facts during the compilation process.”
Disclosure: I was the Manager of Strategy and Competition at Infogroup from 2010 through 2012. Prior to that, I was a Product Marketing Manager at OneSource Information Services, an Infogroup subsidiary.