BUC awarded more than $1 million in lawsuit ruling

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A federal court jury in Fort Lauderdale has returned a verdict awarding more than $1 million in damages to BUC International Corp. in a BUC lawsuit against MLS Solutions, Inc. and the International Yacht Council (IYC), BUC said in a statement Friday.

BUC, a source of published information on the availability, pricing, and market values of previously owned yachts, alleged in the lawsuit that MLS and IYC had launched a competing Internet listing service using listings copied from the BUC Marine Marketing System.

BUC said that MLS Solutions provided the Internet domain names and back-end technology, while IYC encouraged its members to support its new listing service.

The defendants had maintained that the listings belonged to the broker who listed the boat, not the Web site that posted it.

BUC said the jury awarded it compensatory damages of nearly $1.6 million and statutory damages of about $1.1 million. BUC also plans to seek a permanent injunction against IYC and MLS from the judge.

“This is a win for the brokers and all businesses that endeavor to compete on a level playing field,” said Walter Sullivan, president of BUC. “It means that the Internet is not the wild, wild West where people can just copy other people’s information at will.”

IYC reaction to the decision

IYC President Barbara Tierney said in an interview with Boating Industry this morning that the verdict would be appealed.

Tierney said the judge threw out the anti-trust allegations that were made, and said it was her understanding that BUC must choose between the compensatory damages amount or the statutory damages amount.

She also provided a portion of a note from the jury that was read to those in the courtroom, which said, in part: “Our award, based on the minimums, should indicate that in the future, the plaintiff should reevaluate his methods of dealing not only with his competition, but also his clients.”

“As far as the IYC and MLS Solutions, it’s business as usual,” Tierney said. “We will always contend that the broker is the author [of the listings]. The bottom line is that it’s the broker that writes it. If we don’t put anything in their databases, then their databases are empty.”

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— Jon Mohr

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