Sports Data used to be the official supplier of statistics to the National Rugby League (NRL), the peak competition for the sport in Australia. In 2013 its contract was terminated and a new supplier Prozone was appointed.
In order to provide useful statistics relating to sporting events it is necessary for the statistics provider to have a template or set of criteria which identifies the events that will be captured or entered into the statistics database. When Prozone was appointed the new NRL’s official statistics provider in late 2013 and early 2014, it set about developing an input template or set of input criteria so that it could provide useful statistical analysis to the NRL. Sports Data alleges that during this process Prozone used or copied input criteria that it had developed over the many years that it was the official supplier to the NRL. Sports Data alleges that in so doing Prozone used Sports Data’s confidential information without its consent or authority and infringed its copyright.
The Court disagreed and refused to grant an injunction restraining Prozone’s conduct.
The Court was required to consider the nature of copyright in a set of 700 inputs such as “try assist – kick bomb”. For copyright to subsist in a work, one or more authors must have expended sufficient mental effort or exertion of a literary nature in relation to the form of expression in the work. The form of expression cannot simply be dictated by the nature of the information. This is another example of the Federal Court adopting the High Court’s 2009 decision of IceTV Pty Ltd v Nine Network Australia Pty Ltd  HCA 14.
The Court found that the works were so dissimilar that Sports Data could not make out a prima facie case to support an injunction. As a result its application was dismissed.