High court asked to break up PGA's 'monopoly' on facts

By The Associated Press
08.31.04

ATLANTA — Morris Communications Co. has filed a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear its lawsuit against the PGA Tour over the release of real-time scores at golf tournaments.

A three-judge panel of 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed in March with the PGA Tour's position that it could forbid news organizations from releasing real-time golf scores until after they were posted on the Tour's Web site. Morris, a family-owned multimedia company headquartered in Augusta, is asking the nation's high court to overturn the ruling in Morris Communications v. PGA Tour.

"The Eleventh Circuit's decision is a dangerous precedent," Morris' petition states. "It upholds the PGA's claim of a monopoly over the raw facts of real-time golf scores ... denying consumers access to those scores whenever the PGA sees fit not to disseminate them."

Morris has maintained that no one has control over information or facts in the public domain, which includes golf scores seen by millions.

"Morris is challenging the right of the PGA, or anyone else, to claim monopoly power over newsworthy facts that should be in the public domain and available to everyone," said Morris attorney Donald Verrilli Jr.

The PGA Tour maintains it owns the rights to the scores because it puts on the golf tournaments.

A federal judge first ruled for the PGA, a decision upheld in March by the circuit court panel. A petition from Morris asking the full circuit court to rehear the case was denied in May.

If the nation's highest court decides not to hear the case, the 11th Circuit's decision will stand.