Published: Wed, 07 Mar 2018
Exchange Telegraph Co v Gregory & Co  1 QB 147
Tort – Procuring breach of contract – Injunction – Right of Property in Unpublished Information
Exchange Telegraph (ET) was a news agency that sent telegraph messages. It transmitted the latest stock exchange updates, had them typed up and made into a newspaper. It contracted subscribers to sell the newspaper. G&C obtained the telegraph tapes and posted it publicly. The company threatened to continue to print and multiply copies of the copyright information, obtain copies and induce subscribers of ET to break their contracts by supplying G&C with the information. An injunction was granted and G&C appealed.
Whether there was an infringement on ET’s copyright in the newspaper and whether injury was caused the ET by G&C.
Allowing the appeal, ET had a right of property at common law in the information, and were entitled to an injunction to restrain G&C from infringing that right by continuing to publish it. G&C knew, based on the terms of their contract with ET, that the information had a monetary value to his business as a broker. He used the information he obtained by means of probable bribery to entice people to go into his office and deal with him. G&C persuaded the employed subscriber to break his contract with the plaintiffs, and thus, committed a gross breach of faith and did cause injury to ET. The information was deemed to have a value which could be sold and could be considered personal property owned by ET. G&C were found to have intentionally invaded ET’s right of property, caused injury to ET and therefore acted as an unlawful interference to a contract.
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