26 July 2017Trademarks

Google shifts global injunction clash to US court

Google has shifted its fight over a global injunction to the US, after losing its battle in Canada.

In June, Canada’s Supreme Court ordered Google to de-index the website of Datalink Technology Gateways, a company which had been found to have unlawfully relabelled and sold products of a competitor.

Google had raised freedom of expression concerns and challenged the “propriety and necessity of the extraterritorial reach” of the global order.

“The appeal is dismissed and the worldwide interlocutory injunction against Google is upheld,” said the court.

The dispute involved Equustek Solutions, a technology company in British Colombia, accusing Datalink of relabelling one of Equustek’s products and passing it off as its own while acting as a distributor. You can find background on the case here.

Equustek had approached Google in September 2012 and asked it to de-index Datalink’s website, but Google refused, so Equustek brought court proceedings.

Between December 2012 and January 2013, Google de‑indexed 345 web pages associated with Datalink.

However, Google didn’t de-index all of Datalink’s websites and limited the de-indexing to searches conducted on google.ca.

The case finally found itself at the Supreme Court, which upheld a global injunction, enjoining Google from displaying any part of Datalink’s websites on any of its search results worldwide.

On Monday, July 24, Google filed a claim (available here, courtesy of Wired) against Equustek at the US District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose Division.

“Google brings this action to prevent enforcement in the US of a Canadian order that prohibits Google from publishing within the US search result information about the contents of the internet,” said Google.

The Canadian court recognised Google as an “innocent non-party”, the claim said, but simultaneously justified “an unprecedented global injunction by characterising Google—a single provider of interactive computer services—as ‘the determinative player in allowing the harm to occur’”.

Google is seeking a declaration from the court that the Canadian order is unenforceable in the US as it is inconsistent with the First Amendment and the Communications Decency Act.

“The Canadian order is repugnant to those rights, and the order violates principles of international comity, particularly since the Canadian plaintiffs never established any violation of their rights under US law,” said Google.

David Price, senior product counsel at Google, said: “Rules regarding online content vary from country to country, so we're taking this court action to defend the legal principle that one country shouldn't be able to decide what information people in other countries can access online.”

He added that undermining this principle “inevitably leads to a world where internet users are subject to the most restrictive content limitations from every country”.

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7 August 2017   A global injunction issued by Canada’s Supreme Court is consistent with the US’s First Amendment, according to WIPR readers.