A New York-based publisher is suing UBS for alleged plagiarism in the daily news summary that the Swiss investment bank's oil research unit in London sends out to clients in more than 15 countries.
Energy Intelligence Group alleges that material from a number of its oil and gas titles – including International Oil Daily, Petroleum Intelligence and World Gas Intelligence – turned up in UBS's daily oil news bulletin over an extended period.
The lawsuit, which was filed in London last month, alleges that there were at least 10 separate incidents of copying from 2006 and 2007.
It also confirms that the UBS oil analyst Jon Rigby, who is responsible for putting together the bulletins, has for some time held a subscription to Energy Intelligence Group publications. But it says that the publisher cannot be certain of the full extent of the copying, or how widely the material was subsequently distributed.
The publisher's suit claims that UBS has plagiarised its output "in a systematic manner over a long period of time" in order to boost its profile and reputation "amongst its customers and potential customers".
"The acts of the defendant were carried out flagrantly and in the belief that the benefit to be so gained far exceeded the damages at risk," the lawsuit says.
The investment bank declined to comment in detail on the allegations yesterday because the case is ongoing. "UBS intends to defend the case vigorously," a spokesman said.
News of the allegations may cause extra embarrassment given that it comes just days after UBS was hired by the Government to advise on alternative models for the potential privatisation of the Royal Mail.
If the sell-off goes ahead, it could net up to £4bn for the Government. The bank is to help the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Shareholder Executive to structure any deal in the best interests of the taxpayer.
The Government has hinted that either all or part of Royal Mail could be sold off by 2013. UBS's review of the organisation is expected to take a year, and include the massive pension deficit, estimated at £8bn in May.