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Jobserve accuses RDL

Infringement of registered trade mark

Jobserve have started legal proceedings against RDL Group PLC and various companies including the recruitment agency Relational Designers Ltd and Skillsite Ltd in relation to a competitor website, known as Skillsite, which was launched in December 2000. Jobserve have alleged that Relational Designers Ltd and Skillsite Ltd have violated Jobserveís database rights and further allege infringement of registered trade mark and passing off by Skillsite, Relational Designers Ltd and RDL Group Plc involving meta-tagging.

Robbie Cowling, the founder and MD of Jobserve explained: ìCandidates who had registered their CVs with Jobserve were being troubled by unsolicited emails encouraging them to look at the jobs on Skillsite and to send their CVs to Skillsite. We discovered that Andy Richards was a shareholder of Skillsite and he was well-known to me as the managing director of Relational Designers Ltd. Relational Designers Ltd have been a long-standing customer of Jobserve as their core business is that of a recruitment agency and for many years they have subscribed to our CV service which had given them access to most of the CVs on our CV database.î

ìJobserve obtained evidence, which strongly suggested that the CVs they were supplying to RDL, were being systematically transferred to Skillsite. Jobserve also discovered that over 400 other jobsites were being driven by the same database as Skillsite and that nearly all of these websites had the word ìjobserveî in their meta-tags.î

Although Jobserveís complaints have yet to be proved in Court, without a contested hearing Skillsite and RDL Group Plc have given various temporary undertakings to the Court which are to last until the hearing of an application for further temporary injunctions and orders which are sought to last until after judgment at the trial at which final and permanent relief is to be sought. Jobserve has given the Court an undertaking to compensate them if it turns out at trial that they should do so for any loss caused by the temporary order for which it should compensate them. Following the complaints, the ìjobserveî meta-tags appear to have been removed from the jobsites and also the number of CVs available to agencies subscribing to Skillsite appears to have been reduced from over 105,000 in November 2001 to less than 50,000.

Robbie added ìWe had noticed a steep decline in the revenue we were receiving for our CV service and were amazed because it seemed the harder we tried to improve the service the less effect it was having. Of course, if all our hard work was just contributing to the success of Skillsiteís CV service which was being licensed for a fee we couldnít compete with, then that could explain what we were up against.î

What seems to upset Robbie the most though is the apparent lack of respect for the candidatesí Data Protection rights. He explains ìCandidates can send their CVs to Jobserve, safe in the knowledge that CVs would not be published online and would be sent only to recruitment agencies. We had to take legal action to stop this flagrant abuse of candidatesí personal information. We found it relatively easy to gain access to the data of candidates on Skillsite. It would have been just as easy for their employers to do the same.