OCLC Files Lawsuit Against Clarivate Analytics
LAST UPDATE June 27, 2022 (12:15 PM Eastern): At the bottom of this post (and here) we have added (Update 5) a link to the full text of a temporary restraining order requested by the plaintiff (OCLC) and granted by Judge Howell earlier today.
The lawsuit was filed by OCLC earlier this week in U.S. Federal Court, Southern District of Ohio.
The complaint (32 pages; PDF) is available here. The complete court docket with additional items is also available and is updated as new documents become available.
We have asked OCLC and Clarivate for comment. If/when available we will update this post. We will also update with links to key documents as well as links to media coverage.
Tortious interference with contractual relationships
Conspiracy to tortiously interfere with contractual relationship
Tortious interference with prospective business relationships
Conspiracy to tortiously interfere with prospective business relationships
From the Complaint:
OCLC, Inc., (“OCLC”), by and through counsel, files this Complaint for a temporary restraining order, injunctive relief, and damages against Clarivate, Plc, Clarivate Analytics (US) LLC, ProQuest LLC, and Ex Libris (USA), Inc., (“Defendants”)
8. In March 2022, OCLC became aware that Defendants are working on a platform called MetaDoor, which Defendants have publicly acknowledged will directly compete with OCLC’s WorldCat®. Instead of devoting the time and other substantial resources that OCLC has invested to create its industry-leading WorldCat®, Defendants have chosen to take shortcuts by using the MetaDoor platform to misappropriate catalog records and metadata created by OCLC, its members, and others.
9. Defendants have been contacting OCLC customers and encouraging them to contribute the bibliographic records from WorldCat®, and provide access to those records from the MetaDoor platform, all of which is in direct breach of those customers’ contractual obligations to OCLC. In addition to tortiously interfering with OCLC’s contractual relationships with its customers, Defendants are also tortiously interfering with OCLC’s prospective business relationships by providing OCLC’s WorldCat® records to MetaDoor users without requiring those users to subscribe to use WorldCat® or otherwise pay OCLC for those records
10. Defendants have also conspired with each other to tortiously interfere with OCLC’s contractual relationships and prospective business relationships.
11. Defendants have publicly stated that they plan to offer MetaDoor to current and future customers for free, which would include access and use of the WorldCat® bibliographic records that are being uploaded, linked to, and/or otherwise transferred into MetaDoor. Defendants’ actions are not purely altruistic, however. Instead, this is just Defendants’ latest attempt to further consolidate their dominant position in the ILS/LSP market. Defendants are engaging in profit-sacrificing behavior to ultimately drive OCLC (and potentially its other competitors) from the ILS/LSP market. And given the importance of WorldCat® to OCLC’s continued operations, Defendants are likely to succeed unless they are stopped from pursuing their current course of wrongful actions.
12. Defendants know that without being able to steal valuable WorldCat® records, MetaDoor will not survive. MetaDoor’s entire structure is built on the back of WorldCat® and the more than five decades worth of work and hundreds of millions of dollars invested by OCLC to create it.
The filing continues and includes these and other sections:
Il. Clarivate and Its Affiliates Are the Most Dominant Player in the ILS/LSP Market.
III. Defendants create and promote MetaDoor, a bibliographic record “index” as a direct
competitor to OCLC’s WorldCat® cataloging database.
IV. Defendants are actively inducing WorldCat® Customers to violate their contractual
agreements with OCLC.
V. The current and future harm to OCLC from Defendants’ predatory behavior is
VI. Defendants have entered into a conspiracy to tortiously interfere with OCLC’s
contractual and prospective business relationships.
From the Prayer for Relief Section:
WHEREFORE, OCLC, Inc. requests that the Court enter judgment in its favor and against
Defendants as follows:
(a) a declaration that Defendants’ conduct in relation to its MetaDoor product, in its
present state of design and plan, constitutes tortious interference, and conspiracy to do the same,
with OCLC’s contractual relationships and prospective business relationships;
(b) a temporary restraining order and preliminary and permanent injunctive relief
prohibiting Defendants from taking any action that interferes with OCLC’s contractual
relationships and with OCLC’s prospective business relationships;
(c) an award of compensatory damages in favor of OCLC against Defendants in an
amount to be determined at trial in excess of $75,000;
(d) an award of punitive damages;
(e) an award of attorney fees, pre-judgment interest, costs, and expenses, incurred in
connection with this action; and/or
(f) for such other and further relief as the court deems just
OCLC is asking for an jury trial.
Direct to Court Docket/All Filings
Statements and Media Reports
UPDATE 1 June 15, 2022: From OCLC
On June 13, 2022, OCLC filed suit against Clarivate PLC and its subsidiaries, Clarivate Analytics (US) LLP, Ex Libris, and ProQuest in the United States District Court, Southern District of Ohio. Claims in the suit include tortious interference with contracts and prospective business relationships and conspiracy to interfere with contracts and business relationships. We are seeking both temporary and permanent injunctions to stop Clarivate and its subsidiaries from wrongfully encouraging libraries to violate their agreements with OCLC by contributing collaboratively created records from WorldCat® to Clarivate’s MetaDoor service. We are also asking the court to stop Clarivate and its subsidiaries from misappropriating records from WorldCat® to develop its MetaDoor service.
UPDATE 2 June 15, 2022: Statement From a Clarivate Spokesperson:
The claims being made have no merit and we will defend ourselves vigorously.
Update 3 June 17, 2022: Statement From Clarivate
Clarivate is disappointed to report that the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) has filed a lawsuit against Clarivate PLC and subsidiaries, including Ex Libris, and ProQuest in connection with our development plans to create a free and open community peer-to-peer sharing platform for metadata created and owned by libraries.
Together with development partner libraries, Clarivate is developing a community-based platform to allow librarians and information experts at museums, educational establishments, cultural and scholarly organizations and more, to freely and easily collaborate to enrich and share metadata to surface and expose their own bibliographic resources and content to a global audience. It will be open to any organization of all sizes and type. All records shared will be available under an appropriate open licence, to allow records to be copied and used in original or modified form. The initiative supports library commitments to open up access to metadata via sharing and supports library strategy to seek operational efficiencies as it makes workflows simpler, more efficient and more effective.
Clarivate is committed to delivering intelligent technology solutions in impactful and value-added ways – to better serve our customers and we will continue to deliver new value, provide seamless workflow and enhance the customer and user experience to help them fuel innovation.
We believe the lawsuit is without merit and we will vigorously defend our position.
UPDATE 4 June 17, 2022 Defendants’ Brief in Opposition to Motion For Temporary Restraining Order ||| Read the the Proposed Temporary Restraining Order
UPDATE 5 June 27, 2022 Temporary Restraining Order
About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.