Order prohibiting Google from delivering search results heads to SCC
The Supreme Court of Canada has agreed to hear an appeal from a decision of the B.C. Court of Appeal which upheld a worldwide injunction against Google Inc. (“Google”), wherein Google was ordered to stop delivering search results to its users that pointed to certain websites.
The facts underlying the appeal arose from Equustek Solutions Inc.’s (“Equustek”) attempts to enforce its intellectual property rights against a former distributor, Datalink Technologies Gateways Inc. (“Datalink”). Allegedly, Datalink was passing off Equustek’s products as its own and using Equustek’s confidential information and trade secrets to manufacture a competing product. Equustek was successful in obtaining various interlocutory orders against Datalink; however, Datalink failed to comply with those orders, and continued “clandestine” operations online to market and sell its infringing products.
In order to more effectively stop Datalink’s infringing activities, Equustek sought an injunction against Google (which was not a party to the dispute), restraining it from publishing search results that included Datalink’s websites, on the basis that this was the only way to give effect to the orders already in place. The B.C. Supreme Court granted the order, and the B.C. Court of Appeal upheld the order on appeal.
In its brief reasons granting leave to appeal, the Supreme Court of Canada outlined the issues for its consideration:
- Under what circumstances may a court order a search engine to block search results, having regard to the interest in access to information and freedom of expression, and what limits (either geographic or temporal) must be imposed on those orders?
- Do Canadian courts have the authority to block search results outside of Canada’s borders?
- Under what circumstances, if any, is a litigant entitled to an interlocutory injunction against a non-party that is not alleged to have done anything wrong?
Whatever the Supreme Court of Canada decides in this matter will hopefully provide direction and clarify the law regarding the ability of a Canadian Court to grant a worldwide injunction, as well as with respect to access to information and freedom of expression in the digital age.
We will keep you updated.