The Supreme Court of Canada released a landmark decision today ruling that Canadian common law courts have the jurisdiction to make global de-indexing orders against search engines like Google. In so, ordering, the Court in Google Inc. v. Equustek Solutions Inc., 2017 SCC 34 underlined the breadth of courts’ jurisdiction to make orders against search engines to stem illegal activities on the Internet including the sale of products manufactured using trade secrets misappropriated from innovative companies.
Archive for the ‘blocking orders’ category
The decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in the Equustek v Google case is likely going to be an important precedent. It will decide whether a Canadian common law court has the jurisdiction to grant de-indexing orders against search engines to aid in enforcing court injunctions, and if it does, the test to apply in making such orders.
The Supreme Court has invited counsel for the parties to make comments on a possible media lock-up immediately prior to the release of the decision by the court. The purpose of lock-ups, as explained in the court’s procedure, “is to facilitate accurate and informed reporting of the Court’s judgments”.
Fordham Law School has the best annual intellectual property conferences. I had the privilege of speaking at its 25th Annual IP Conference yesterday on the Equustek v Google case. In this case the Supreme Court of Canada is being asked to decide if Canadian courts have the jurisdiction to make global de-indexing orders against search engines like Google, and if so, the factors to be considered in making such orders. My slides from the talk are shown below.
Blocking orders against ISPs to combat trade-mark infringement legal says Court of Appeal in CartierJuly 12th, 2016
The English Court of Appeal released an important decision last week confirming that courts’ equitable jurisdiction to grant injunctions where “just and convenient” is broad enough to order internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block web sites from selling trade-mark infringing goods. The Court in Cartier International AG & Ors v British Sky Broadcasting Ltd & Ors  EWCA Civ 658 (06 July 2016) confirmed the correctness of the prior comprehensive decision of Arnold J. in Cartier International AG & Ors v British Sky Broadcasting Ltd & Ors  EWHC 3354 (Ch) (17 October 2014).
In the landmark ruling in Google Spain SL, Google Inc. v Agencia Española de Protección de Datos, Mario Costeja González (case no. C-131/12, May 13, 2014), the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) recognized that search engines are controllers of the personal information they process and have the obligation, in appropriate cases, to de-list links to personal information in their search results. A recent decision in Mosley v Google Inc & Anor  EWHC 59 (QB) (15 January 2015) has recognized that a right to get a blocking order against a search engine might also exist in the United Kingdom under the UK Data Protection Act 1998. The case also illustrates the challenges individuals have in vindicating their privacy interests in the Internet context.
Blocking orders against web sites and services that engage in or enable copyright infringement are common in the European Union. BitTorrent sites like The Pirate Bay are a frequent target of such orders. See, Keeping The Pirate Bays at Bay: using blocking orders to curtail infringements; Blocking orders against ISPs legal in the EU: UPC Telekabel Wien.
In an important decision rendered on June 13, 2014, a Canadian court ordered Google to block a website that was selling goods that violated the trade secrets of the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs obtained a default judgment against the defendants. But, the defendants continued to sell the offending goods over the Internet. The plaintiffs, unable to enforce their judgment, asked for Google’s help in blocking the website. Google voluntarily de-indexed specific URL’s requested by the plaintiffs, but this “whac-a-mole” process was ineffective. When Google refused to de-index the offending websites from its search results, the plaintiffs brought a motion against Google for interim relief requiring Google to de-index the websites. Over Google’s objections, in Equustek Solutions Inc. v. Jack 2014 BCSC 1063, Madam Justice Fenlon of the British Columbia Supreme Court granted the injunction.
European courts have ordered ISPs to block access to pirate file sharing sites in other countries for years. The jurisdiction for doing so is Article 8(3) of the EU Copyright Directive (Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001) which is transposed into the laws of EU Member States. The courts have considered these orders to represent a reasonable balance between the interests of copyright holders, intermediaries, and end users. See, Keeping The Pirate Bays at Bay.
The England High Court recently made an order requiring ISPs to block two linking websites located at www.solarmovie.so (“SolarMovie”) and www.tubeplus.me (“TubePlus”). In doing so, the court in Paramount Home Entertainment International Ltd & Ors v British Sky Broadcasting Ltd & Ors  EWHC 3479 (Ch) (13 November 2013) ruled that the sites, which did not themselves host any content, were nevertheless liable for infringement because they facilitated streaming of content to users by hosting and organizing hyperlinks to the content without consent of copyright owners.
The nature of the sites in issue (the “Websites”) were describe by Justice Arnold as follows:
With Bill C-11, the Copyright Modernization Act, on its way to clause by clause review Canadians have a chance to think about what values they want copyright to reflect. Canadians are being bombarded with a dizzying array of information about amendments that have been proposed including amendments related to enablement, statutory damages, TPMs and fair dealing. Much of the information is inaccurate and emotionally super-charged to garner as much visceral reaction as possible. A significant portion of it originates from Internet activist Michael Geist and is repeated throughout the blogosphere and in the traditional news media, usually with no attempt at analysis.