OTTAWA — The Supreme Court of Canada will hear Google’s appeal of a British Columbia injunction ordering the Internet titan to stop linking to a company that’s being sued for trademark infringement.
In 2014, the B.C. Supreme Court ordered Google to stop indexing or referencing websites run by Morgan Jack through his web-based business, Datalink Technologies Gateways.
Google appealed the injunction, claiming the B.C. court lacked jurisdiction to impose a worldwide ban and raising free speech issues.
The provincial court of appeal found the lower court did have jurisdiction and that the injunction was proper.
Google appealed again and now the Supreme Court says it will hear the case.
As usual, the justices gave no reason for choosing to hear the appeal.
In the 2015 ruling under appeal, Justice Harvey Groberman of the provincial court of appeal said Google effectively does business in British Columbia, meaning there was jurisdiction to impose the injunction.
The case involves B.C.-based Equustek Solutions Inc., which produces industrial network interface hardware.
It alleges that Datalink, once an Equustek distributor, relabelled the technology and passed it off as its own. It also alleges Datalink unlawfully acquired confidential information from Equustek to design and make its own competing product and sell it on several websites.
Equustek sought to cut off Datalink’s sales with an injunction that would stop Google from linking to the questioned sites.
Google initially agreed to shut down some sites, but objected to a broader ban.
“In 2012, the plaintiffs sought an injunction against Google to force it to remove a number of websites used by the defendants from its search indexes,” Groberman wrote in his ruling.
“Google voluntarily removed some 345 URLs from search results on google.ca, but it was not willing to go further. In early 2013, the plaintiffs indicated that they were not satisfied with the arrangement, and the matter returned to court.”
The justice said the google.ca solution was of limited value because the defendants kept shifting sites and most of the questioned sales were to purchasers outside Canada.
“The plaintiffs described the effect as being like a game of ‘Whack-A-Mole’, in which the defendants were nimble enough to circumvent Google’s voluntary arrangement.”
The case also raised concerns about free speech on and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and Electronic Frontier Foundation both intervened to argue the need for openness on the World Wide Web.
Groberman, however, said that free speech was not an issue here.
“Google does not suggest that the orders made against the defendants were inappropriate, nor do the interveners suggest that those orders constituted an inappropriate intrusion on freedom of speech.”