Business News Digital Legal

American knock back of Canadian court’s global IP injunction made permanent 

By | Published on Friday 22 December 2017


The US District Court For The Northern District Of California has confirmed that Google is not obliged to delist an IP infringing website from its search engine across the US on the say so of a Canadian court.

As previously reported, earlier this year the music industry welcomed a ruling in Canada’s Supreme Court that related to a long-running battle between two tech companies. It all began as a dispute between tech firm Equustek and its rival Datalink. The former accused the latter of infringing its IP rights.

As Equustek’s legal action got underway, Datalink moved itself outside the jurisdiction of the Canadian courts. So Equustek instead sought to have Google delist its rival’s website, so that consumers would find it harder to access the IP-infringing products. But for that delisting to work, Equustek argued, it needed to be global. And the Canadian courts agreed.

Although this wasn’t a music case, the music industry welcomed the ruling, it too having faced the challenge of dealing with copyright infringing websites that, when facing legal action, move themselves to countries where IP rights are hard to enforce. Music companies also reckoned that, to truly work, things like web-blocking and search engine de-listing needed to happen on a global basis.

However, Google argued, the Canadian courts had no power to force a de-listing outside of Canada. Because in the US, for example, such an order might contravene the First Amendment of the American constitution or Section 230 of America’s Communications Decency Act. The Canadian Supreme Court said such concerns were “theoretical” rather than real, and so passed its global injunction anyway.

But when Google took the matter to a Californian court last month, the judge there sided with the web giant, passing a preliminary injunction preventing Canada’s Supreme Court from forcing Google to de-list a website on its American search engine. And according to Bloomberg, earlier this month the US courts granted Google a permanent injunction on this issue. Basically bringing the matter to a close, in the US at least.

Though neither Equustek nor the Canadian judiciary took part in the US court hearings, so it’s not really clear whether they accept that this dispute is actually now resolved.