Skift Take

Screen-scraping lawsuits are as old as the internet. We don't know if any money changed hands when Ryanair and Expedia settled lawsuits in the United States and Ireland, but what seems apparent is that Ryanair flights have gone missing on Expedia websites. Case(s) closed.

Ryanair and Expedia appear to have made peace — or at least they’ve settled lawsuits that the low-cost carrier filed more than two years ago against the online travel agency in Ireland and the United States.

Asked about the U.S. lawsuit, which was settled in Washington state in early August, Expedia Group spokesperson Sarah Waffle Gavin confirmed to Skift on Tuesday “the Irish action was part of the settlement and is in the process of being dismissed as well.”

The lawsuit in a federal court in Washington was dismissed with prejudice, meaning it can’t be brought again. Terms of the settlement were confidential but from outward appearances it appears as though Ryanair walked away with a win.

GeekWire, which reported on the U.S. portion of the settlement last month, posted a screenshot of Expedia UK offering a Ryanair flight from Dublin to London Southend Airport. But perusing Expedia websites on Tuesday, Skift couldn’t fund any Ryanair flights as standalone offerings or in packages.

In both the Ireland and U.S. lawsuits, Ryanair alleged that Expedia was engaged in unauthorized screen-scraping to access the airline’s flights and fares. In the U.S., Ryanair argued that this violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act because it amounted to copyright infringement, added costs to travelers, and led them astray with sometimes-inaccurate information. Ryanair sought damages and injunctive relief.

In the U.S., defendant Expedia countered that the law Ryanair cited does not give standing to foreign-based airlines.

Ryanair is engaged in a number of lawsuits across Europe, trying to eliminate screen-scraping travel companies from obtaining the airline’s content without permission.

“Ryanair does not allow any such commercial use of its website and objects to the practice of screenscraping also on the basis of certain legal principles, such as database rights and copyright protection, etc.,” the airline said in an annual report on July 30. “Ryanair is currently involved in a number of legal proceedings against the proprietors of screenscraper websites in Ireland, Germany, The Netherlands, France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland and the U.S.”

The two parties settled the Expedia lawsuit in Washington nine days later.

Class Action Lawsuit

In the same annual financial filing, Ryanair noted that the City of Birmingham, Alabama’s pension funds sued the airline and its CEO in November, alleging that airline executives misled shareholders “regarding employment and financial data, employee negotiation processes, the September 2017 pilot rostering management issue, and the likelihood and financial impact of unionization, which allegedly artificially inflated the market value of Ryanair’s securities.”

The Birmingham, Alabama lawsuit seeks class action status. In April, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint, and in June Ryanair and CEO Michael O’Leary filed a motion to dismiss.

This Birmingham, Alabama lawsuit is ongoing.

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Tags: expedia, flights, lawsuits, litigation, ryanair

Photo credit: The exterior of a Ryanair aircraft. Ryanair and Expedia settled lawsuits in Ireland and the United States. Ronnie Macdonald

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