Google and Facebook ordered by US court to remove counterfeit
On 30 November 2011 a court in Nevada ordered
that Google, Bing, Yahoo, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter remove the
domain names of over 600 websites selling counterfeit Chanel items
from their search results.
The judgment is wide ranging and broad,
ordering a number of the "big players" of the internet arena to
take steps so that the web addresses of over 600 firms do not
appear in any results of searches carried out by users.
The judgment represents the ever-increasing
stance of the US court to protect the intellectual property of
companies on the internet. It is not just in the US where court
decisions have favoured rights owners. In the L'Oreal v
Ebay case, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled
that Ebay should take a more proactive approach to protect against
the sale of counterfeit goods on its website.
The effect of the US order is yet to be seen,
arguably the US court has limited jurisdiction with regards to
websites registered outside the US, meaning the actual effect of
the order could be substantially limited if the relevant websites
are registered outside the US. Fresh action would be needed in the
relevant jurisdictions in order to enforce the order. This is
furthered by the uncertainty about whether another jurisdiction
would find in the same way as the US court.
This case is another 'win' for rights owners,
though US lawyers have warned it could be challenged. Cases such as
this suggest a shift towards protecting intellectual property
despite the impact this has on Internet Service Providers, search
engines and other 'high-use' sites on the internet. What action
Google and the other affect parties will take in response to this
judgment remains to be seen.