News / Ottawa

Supreme Court to hear case involving Google search results

Company got injunction to prevent a firm accused of stealing their technology from appearing in search results.

If Google loses its case at the court it could face other orders to remove companies or webpages from search results.

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If Google loses its case at the court it could face other orders to remove companies or webpages from search results.

Google will go before the Supreme Court in the weeks ahead, appealing an order that forced the tech giant to try to remove a company from the Internet.

Equustek Solutions is a British Columbia company that got a court order against a competitor that was selling their patented technology online.

The injunction didn’t stop the company, so Equustek got an injunction demanding Google delist their competitor from its search-engine results.

Google will appeal that decision in a hearing in the next few weeks, the Supreme Court confirmed Monday. In its submission to the court, the company argued it is simply a search engine and can’t be the enforcer of the Internet.

“Google is incapable of taking these websites offline. It is incapable of stopping the defendants from launching new websites,” it wrote. “It is incapable of preventing users in Canada or anywhere else from accessing the websites at issue.”

It also argued the case is a freedom-of-speech issue, because the company can’t tell its users about something on the Internet.

“Google’s speech is restricted, as it is now prohibited from truthfully informing the global public.”

Trent Horne, a partner and intellectual property lawyer with Bennet Jones, said one of many interesting aspects of the case is that Google is being brought into a private dispute.

“They have never been accused of any wrongdoing, they have just been brought into the fray as an enforcement mechanism,” he said.

He said the court will have to decide if order forcing Google to delist website should take place and what the test should be for imposing them.

He said there is also a major question about the limits of Canadian courts.

“You could have a Canadian court granting an order that obliges somebody in California to do something, which prevents an individual in England from buying something,” he said.  

Horne said the Supreme Court has not ruled in any cases that are similar to this, so it’s hard to have any idea how they might rule.

“I am hard-pressed to think of something that is close.”

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