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Google To Be Heard By The Supreme Court Of Canada Concerning A Worldwide Injunction

The Supreme Court of Canada will hear Google’s appeal of a worldwide injunction upheld by the British Columbia Court of Appeal.  The injunction ordered Google to remove links from searches conducted worldwide displaying a Canadian business which has been accused of trademark infringement.  The implications of the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision could be far reaching as it deals with the powers of a domestic court to control and censor online search results generated internationally and outside of its own jurisdiction.  Further, this decision will also illustrate to what extent a third-party may be burdened to protect another party’s rights.

The issue at hand began when Equustek Solutions brought an action against a competitor, Datalink Technologies, alleging that Datalink infringed on Equustek’s trademark and unlawfully obtained Equustek’s confidential information.  Equustek was initially granted an injunction that prohibited Datalink from carrying on business but Datalink continued to engage in online sales through a complex network of websites.

While Google was not a party to the initial action, Datalink operated a number of websites and relied heavily on search engines such as Google to drive traffic and customers to their websites. Although Google voluntarily removed a number of links to Datalink’s sites from searches conducted within Canada, the links to the offending websites were still displayed for searches conducted outside of Canada.

Equustek was successful in obtaining a worldwide injunction from the British Columbia Supreme Court ordering Google to remove all links to Datalink’s websites from all search results, whether conducted within Canada or globally.

Google appealed the British Columbia Superior Court decision arguing that a worldwide injunction was overbroad and should be limited in scope to Canada, but the British Columbia Court of Appeal affirmed the lower Court’s decision. In reaching the Court’s decision, Justice Harvey Groberman speaking for the unanimous three-judge panel noted that “an order limited to the search site would not be effective. I am satisfied that there was a basis, here, for giving the injunction worldwide effect.”

This case is one of a number of legal disputes surfacing around the world that deals with a domestic court’s power to enforce judgements against technology companies which operate outside of traditional boundaries and across the globe.

This article was written by Myron Mallia-Dare, a business lawyer based in Toronto, Canada. The information in this article is not intended to be legal advice and is of a general nature. Consult a lawyer for advice for any specific situation.

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