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Lawsuit Pending Between PIABA and CCH and SAC

The Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association (PIABA) has informed SAC that it has downloaded from the NASD Portal virtually all of the 26,000 Arbitration Awards in the SAC-CCH Awards Network (“SCAN”) Library by use of a “robotics” software.

The NASD Portal is an Internet site operated by CCH and SAC for purposes of assisting NASD Dispute Resolution, Inc. in enhancing public and party accessibility to its Awards (and those of select other forums); the NASD Portal was launched in June 2001.

The Library or Awards collection has been gathered by SAC over the past dozen years and contains Awards of both active and some inactive forums; many of these Awards are not available anywhere else in the marketplace.

Reportedly, members attending PIABA’s 10th Annual Conference and Meeting in Amelia Island, FL (10/18-20) were given a private presentation on PIABA’s coup. CCH Incorporated reacted to the news with a letter, dated October 24, 2001, to PIABA’s new President, Philip M. Aidikoff. In the letter, CCH asserted that PIABA’s “actions are in violation of the intellectual property rights of [CCH and SAC]” and proposed that PIABA “…not take any action with respect to the electronic data files…” Instead, it suggested, PIABA could “[e]nter into a license agreement with CCH for the data in question.”

That letter is an Exhibit to a Complaint filed in the District Court of New Jersey on October 29, 2001, captioned PIABA v. CCH Incorporated and Securities Arbitration Commentator, Inc., in which PIABA seeks a declaratory judgment that its downloaded database “does not violate any rights claimed by defendants.”

In the Complaint, PIABA states that “it created its Database by downloading all of the publicly-available Awards on the SAC/CCH web site.” It describes generally how it did so, mentions the CCH letter, asserting that it has been threatened with litigation, and asks the Court for a “judicial declaration” in its favor.

PIABA issued a contemporaneous Press Release, in which it announces the action and the new “database,” which “consists in part of awards from the database of awards on [the Portal.]” The database was created, Mr. Aidikoff is quoted as saying, because “[t]he design of the SAC Database was so cumbersome that our members found themselves all but forced to send money to SAC simply to get copies of arbitration awards that were supposed to be publicly available. This has resulted in greater cost to wronged investors who are pursuing recovery….”

CCH has issued its own Press Release, dated October 31, 2001, in which it promises to “aggressively oppose and seek prompt legal resolution of an attempt by [PIABA] to misappropriate, duplicate and sell to PIABA members the proprietary and copyrighted SAC-CCH Awards Library.” CCH also reports that SAC “will join in supporting CCH’s effort….”

CCH Associate Publisher Peter Berkery is quoted as saying that “[t]he complexities of the electronic information marketplace cannot simply be set aside by PIABA. With little demonstrated concern for the legal or ethical implications, the organization has lifted a significant percentage of the intellectual property developed and maintained by SAC and CCH with plans to use it solely for its own financial gain.”

(SAC Ref. No. 01-44-01.) (SAC Ed: FYI, the Reference file contains copies of the PIABA Complaint, the CCH letter, and the PIABA and CCH Press Releases.)

 


Copyright 2000-2002 Securities Arbitration Commentator, Inc. P.O. Box 112, Maplewood, NJ 07040; t: 973-761-5880 f: 973-761-1504. Materials denoted with a SAC Reference No. (e.g. SAC Ref. No. 99-01-001) are on hand at SAC and may be obtained by calling the Securities Arbitration Commentator, or by email to help@sacarbitration.com. The Securities Arbitration Commentator is the leading publication for securities arbitration news and information, and maintains the most complete database of arbitration awards availalble anywhere. For more information regarding their services, visit their website at www.sacarbitration.com

Nothing herein is intended as legal or financial advice. The law is different in different jurisdictions, and the facts of a particular matter can change the application of the law. Please consult an attorney or your financial advisor before acting upon the information contained in this article. 


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