NEW YORK (Reuters) - Swatch Group AG, the world’s largest watchmaker, has sued Bloomberg LP, accusing the news service of secretly recording a conference call with securities analysts and providing a transcript to clients.
In a copyright infringement lawsuit, the Swiss company said Bloomberg had improperly recorded a February 8 earnings call while it was in progress, and provided a transcript that day to its online subscribers.
Swatch said Bloomberg had not been invited or authorized to participate in the call. The Swiss company also said it had instructed listeners at the beginning of the call not to record it for publication or broadcast.
The lawsuit seeks a court order for Bloomberg to destroy its copies of the recording and transcript, as well as damages and other remedies for its alleged “willful” infringement, in violation of federal copyright law.
Bloomberg defended its actions.
“If a public company discloses financial performance information to a select group of analysts, that company has a responsibility to be transparent and provide that information to everyone,” spokesman Ty Trippet said in an email. “The investing public has a right to know, and we’ll continue to provide transcripts and recordings from analyst calls to our audiences. We don’t think the Copyright Act says otherwise.”
Swatch said that in response to Swatch’s demand that it disable access to the transcript, Bloomberg admitted on February 10 to recording the call without permission but refused to disable online access to or remove the transcript from its website.
Based in Bienne, Switzerland, Swatch is best known for its colorful plastic namesake watches but also owns higher-end brands including Breguet, Longines and Omega.
Thomson Reuters StreetEvents competes with Bloomberg in providing transcripts of corporate teleconferences.
According to the StreetEvents website, Swatch chose not to provide dial-in details for the analyst call that is the subject of the lawsuit. The website recommended that customers seeking such details contact Swatch directly.
The case is Swatch Group Management Services Ltd v. Bloomberg LP, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 11-01006.
Editing by Ted Kerr, Bernard Orr