By Jonathan Stempel
(Reuters) - A federal judge has dismissed Swatch Group SA's lawsuit accusing the news service Bloomberg LP of secretly recording a conference call with securities analysts and providing a transcript to clients without permission.
District Judge Alvin Hellerstein in Manhattan said on Thursday that Bloomberg had met the burden of showing that its handling of Swatch's February 8, 2011, call discussing the company's recent financial performance and business opportunities constituted "fair use" under U.S. copyright law.
The world's largest watchmaker said it had instructed listeners at the beginning of the call not to record for publication or broadcast what was said, but that Bloomberg did so and gave online subscribers a transcript the same day.
In a decision dated May 17, Hellerstein said Bloomberg's use of the entire transcript rather than excerpts would ordinarily weigh against fair use. In this case, however, "The purpose and character of defendant's use advanced the public interest of furthering full, prompt and accurate dissemination of business and financial news."
Swatch did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Joshua Paul, a lawyer for the company, declined to comment.
Meghan Womack, a Bloomberg spokeswoman, said the news service believes publicly traded companies "have a responsibility to be transparent and provide equal access to information for the investing public."
Based in Bienne, Switzerland, Swatch is best known for its colorful plastic namesake watches but also owns higher-end brands including Breguet, Longines and Omega.
Thomson Reuters StreetEvents competes with Bloomberg in providing transcripts of corporate teleconferences.
The case is Swatch Group Management Services Ltd v. Bloomberg LP, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 11-01006.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Prudence Crowther)