Sunday, 25 Mar, 2007 Offbeat
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Google's List of Class-Action Lawsuits

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Copyright Infringement Lawsuits
AdSense Related Lawsuits
Overcharging Advertisers
Trademark Infringement Lawsuits
Tampering a Site's Ranking and Inappropriate Search Results Lawsuits
Click Fraud Lawsuits
Patent Breach Lawsuits
Other Lawsuits
One-line Lawsuits
Subpoenas

The last major case hitting Google was the one where Viacom claimed $1 billion for copyright infringement via Google's recent acquisition YouTube (do they regret this acquisition now?). This case made our editors curious: How many cases did Google have to face during its history?. The answer was a bit astonishing: there were many. So we thought we could compile a short list of Google's class-action lawsuits, where Google was both a defendant (in the majority of cases) and a plaintiff.

The list is not 100% complete (it would be probably impossible, as there should be hundreds of them, which didn't even make it on bloggers' pages), but it is meant to show the readers how absurd, sometimes the charges were, or in how much trouble Google has gotten, or that some companies have additional departments, which are made only to sue Google and so on. Enjoy!

Copyright Infringement

Blake Field (author and lawyer) v. Google. Filed on April 6, 2004. Amendment complaint filed on May 25, 2004.

Claims: copyright infringement: Field claimed that Google's cache feature made it possible for users to access copies of his copyrighted material.

Outcome: Google's actions proved fair use, as Mr. Field was aware of the fact, that there is a possibility to disable Google robots from caching his pages.


Gordon Roy Parker v. Google. Filed in August, 2004.

Background: as stated by The Register (Read more.. ) "Parker, who represented himself in the suit, publishes online under the name "Snodgrass Publishing Group". One of his publications was an e-book entitled "29 Reasons Not To Be A Nice Guy" and at some time he posted Reason 6 from this book onto a Usenet forum, the worldwide network of discussion groups".

Claims: search engine had breached his copyright in the material.

Outcome: "Judge Surrick dismissed the claim, advising that Google was immune from prosecution in respect of third party postings by virtue of a provision in the Communications Decency Act."


Perfect 10 v. Google. Filed on November 19, 2004.

Claims: Perfect 10 claimed Google to have allowed people to view copyrighted images through Google's image search.

Outcome: (Feb. 17, 2006: Read more.. ) Judge offered preliminary injunction against Google.


Agence France-Presse v. Google (Read more.. ). Filed in March, 2005.

Claims: $17,5 million for the fact that Google News unlawfully incorporated AFP photographs, headlines and excerpts from the beginning of articles.

Outcome: Google sought case dismissal on the ground that AFP did not indicate the infringed works with much precision. The defendant tried to remove all the materials related to AFP from the Google News service, yet the agency was bound to continue the case. If AFP wins this case, there are some severe changes expected in the way news will be shown in the Internet.


U.S. Authors Guild v. Google (Google Books/Print) (Read more.. ). Filed on September 20, 2005.

Claims: Copyright infringement.

Outcome: depends on the fact how important the court, or the courts, will find the present case. If the court, or the courts, will redefine the term 'fair use' in a more narrow sense, this would be not a very positive decision for Google.


Association of American Publishers (AAP) v. Google (Google Books Project) (Read more.. ). Filed in on October 19, 2005.

Claims: copyright infringement. Google is scanning books, which might still be copyrighted.

Outcome: unknown.


ServersCheck BVBA v. Google (Read more.. ). Filed in May 2006 (originally filed in February 2006, though dismissed).

Claims: Google Inc.'s search engine offers up password-cracking tools and serial numbers to unlock their software (assistance in copyright infringement).

Outcome: complaint dismissed, yet the plaintiff promised to appeal.


La Martiniere Groupe v. Google (Read more.. ). File on June 6, 2006.

Claims: counterfeiting and breach of intellectual property rights. Plaintiff claimed 100,000 Euro for each book copied or 1 million Euro ($1,3 million). "That angers the French publishers because it portrays their work as just one step away from the trash can, said Tessa Destais, a spokeswoman for La Martiniere."

Outcome: unknown - apparently trial is underway.


Copiepresse (Belgian Newspaper Conglomerate) v. Google (Read more.. ). Filed in August, 2006.

Claims: to remove all the content indexed by Google's crawlers on the newspaper's websites.

Outcome: Google had to remove the plaintiff's newspaper content from its database within 10 days or face fines of 1,000,000 Euro per day. Google had to publish "in a visible and clear manner and without any commentary from her part the entire intervening judgment on the home pages of google.be and of news.google.be for a continuous period of 5 days within 10 days... under penalty of a daily fine of 500,000 Euro per day of delay". Google had was awarded the costs of the expenses of 941.63 Euro (summons) and 121.47 Euro (costs of thy proceedings).


Viacom v. Google/YouTube. Filed on March 13, 2007.

Claims: copyright infringement (release of unauthorized videos in public).

Outcome: Lawsuit underway.

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AdSense Related Lawsuits

Carl Person v. Google (Read more.. ). Filed on June 19, 2006.

Claims: antitrust and other violations.

Outcome: lawsuit dismissed. Plaintiff accorded a chance to refill the complaint.


Theresa Bradley v. Google (Read more.. ). Filed on August 28, 2006.

Claims: false advertising under the Lanham Act, fraud, interference with prospective business advantage, violations of California Commercial Code § 2207 relating to alteration of contract terms, breach of contract, unlawful interception of electronic communications under 18 U.S.C. $ 2520, invasion of privacy under California law, and intentional destruction of evidence, professional property, and personal property. For $250,000.

Outcome: wrongful termination of AdSense program claim - dismissed; intentional termination of property (e-mail messages) - underway.


Korean site, Humor University v. Google. Filed on March 19, 2007.

Claims: The site was banned from the AdSense advertisement program and was not paid. Plaintiff claims 30 million Won (about $32,000).

Outcome: Lawsuit underway.

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Overcharging Advertisers

CLRB Hanson Industries LLC v. Google (Read more.. ). Filed on August 3, 2005.

Claims: overcharging advertisers (Google did not honor daily spending limits set by the advertisers).

Outcome: unknown.

Note: Lawsuits Lane's Gifts and Collectibles v. Google and Click Defense v. Google could be also attributed to this category.

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Trademark Infringement


Government Employees Insurance Company (GEICO) v. Google Inc. and Overture Services. Initially filed on May 4, 2004. Amendments to current complaint from May 14, 2004 and November 29, 2004 have dismissed Overture Services as a defendant.

Claims: trademark infringement in Google's AdWords advertising program.

Outcome: settled between the two parties. Details are held confidential.


Rescuecom Corporation v. Google (Read more.. ). Filed in September, 2004.

Claims: Google resells a trademarked keyword to Rescuecom's competitors; Google is preventing people from reaching Rescuecom's website; Google's sale of keywords alters the search results delivered to searchers, and this alteration diverts consumers.

Outcome: ruled in Google's favor.


JTH Tax, Inc. v. Google (Read more.. ). Filed on April 4, 2005.

Claims: "Liberty Tax Service" is a service from the JTH Tax, Inc. The site "freeadvicecenter.com" is a member of Google's AdWord ad program, where its title is "Liberty Tax Service". No one has specified the exact keyword triggering the current lawsuit, but JTH Tax has sued Google for injunction.

Outcome: voluntarily dismissed by the plaintiff shortly after filing.


Jews for Jesus v. Google (Read more.. ). Filed on December 21, 2005.

Claims: trademark infringement. "The basis of this lawsuit is a Blogspot-hosted blog at jewsforjesus.blogspot.com. Until the lawsuit, this blog was basically dormant--there were 3 posts between Jan. 30, 2005 and May 9, 2005, and there had been no posts for over 7 months. The first three posts suggest a tone of mild criticism against the organization, as does the username ("Whistle Blower")."

Outcome (Read more.. ): voluntarily dismissed on July 26, 2006.


Cash 'n Go v. Google (Read more.. ). Filed on January 24, 2006.

Claims: Google was selling the keyword "check 'n go" through its Google AdWords ad program.

Outcome: Settled before going into court.

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Lowering a Site's Ranking and Inappropriate Search Results

SearchKing v. Google. Filed on October 18, 2002.

Claims: SearchKing claimed Google to have intentionally lowered page rankings of the former. Plaintiff claimed $75,000, punitive damages, attorneys' fees.

Outcome: Case dismissed by the court.


Mark G. Maughan v. Google (Read more.. ). Filed on March 19, 2004.

Claims: Plaintiff claimed that Google's search engine generated inappropriate results for "Mark Maughan Accountancy" search query.

Outcome: Google launched an anti-SLAPP in response. Case dismissed and Google received a $23k from $112k requested for attorneys' fees and costs.


Kinderstart.com v. Google. Filed on March 17, 2006.

Claims: Google didn't include the site in the index list.

Outcome: On March 20, 2007 the judge ruled in Google's favor.


Mark Roberts v. Google (Read more.. ). Filed on May 05, 2006.

Claims: mishandling two of the plaintiff's e-commerce sites rankings.

Outcome: claim voluntarily dismissed, after Roberts received a call from Google's officials with a threatening to start an anti-SLAPP motion, in case Roberts went on with the suit.


Chris Langdon v. Google. (Read more.. ). Filed on May 17, 2006.

Claims: under-ranking. Plaintiff claimed that Google, AOL, Microsoft placed the plaintiff's site's ads in prominent places.

Outcome: all claims dismissed.

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Click-fraud

Google v. Auction Expert International. Filed on November 15, 2004.

Claims: Click fraud.

Outcome: Ruled in Google's favor: plaintiff covered Google's fees and costs of $75,000.


Lane's Gifts and Collectibles v. Google (Read more.. ). Filed on February 17, 2005.

Claims: click fraud. The plaintiff claimed improper charges from the Google AdSense advertising system.

Outcome: Google offered $90 million to settle the case without going to court. Any web site, an ad partner of Google's ad network, able to prove improper charges over four previous years, would be eligible for damages.


Click Defense Inc. v. Google (Read more.. ). Filed in June 24, 2005.

Claims: negligence in preventing severe cases of click-fraud. Plaintiff claimed not less than $5 million.

Outcome: Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed the complaint on September 14, 2005.

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Patent Breach

Rates Technology, Inc. (RTI) v. Google (Google Talk service) (Read more.. ). Filed on October 5, 2005.

Claims: patent infringement (U.S. Patent Numbers 5,425,085 and 5,519,769, from 1991 and 1995). Plaintiff claims damages and injunction.

Outcome: Trial underway.


Jonathan T. Taplin (Intertainer) v. Apple, Google, Napster (Read more.. ). Filed on December 29, 2006.

Claims: patent breach (U.S. patent No. 6,925,469 "Digital Entertainment Service Platform", filed September 5, 2001, issued on August 2, 2005. Patent inventors Kevin P. Headings and Steven M. Schein. Copyright holder - Interteiner).

Outcome: Trial underway.

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Other Cases

Department of Justice v. Google (Read more.. ). Filed in January, 2006.

Claims: Google rejected the DoJ's request to hand over users' search queries. Original claim: to provide every query a month's worth and all the URL's crawled by the robots from MSN Search, Yahoo!, AOL and Google. Narrowed claim: search queries and URLs narrowed to a million.

Outcome: Google would provide a sampling of websites it searched.


Jeffrey Toback (Nassau County Legislator) v. Google (Read more.. ). Filed on May 4, 2006.

Claims: Mr. Toback accused Google in making its money by participating in child pornography distribution.

Outcome: lawsuit withdrawn by plaintiff.


Universal Tube v. YouTube (Read more.. ). Filed on October 30, 2006.

Claims: Plaintiff argued to incur dramatic Web support costs and lost business because surfers looking for YouTube (youtube.com) accidentally visit Universal Tube's site (utube.com) instead.

Amendment filed in late December 2006. Universal Tube and Rollform Equipment Corporation amended its original complaint (Read more.. ), filed on October 30, 2006, against YouTube. They charged Chad Hurley and Steve Chan, founders of YouTube, of racketeering and knowingly building their business on a copyright infringement. YouTube motioned to dismiss the case (Read more.. ).


Google v. Central Mfg (Read more.. ). Filed on January 19, 2007.

Claims: false advertising, unfair competition and RICO violations for claiming that Leo Stoller owns the Google trademark.

Outcome: Trial underway.

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'One-line' lawsuits

France (Read more.. ): Luis Vuitton (luggage maker) and Bourse des Vols (Internet travel agency) started a lawsuit back in 2004 against Google for allowing its advertising partners to use certain trademarked words as their keywords. Google found guilty. The decision was appealed.


Germany (Read more.. ): similar case (2004). Google found not guilty. "[...] the company is not liable for the actions of advertisers prior to notification of trademark rights."


USA (Read more.. ): Google sued by Yahoo for patent and trademark infringement, related to search-related advertising.


USA (Read more.. ): Overture Services filed a lawsuit against Google for patent infringement: a patent on placing auction bids in search related results.

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Subpoenas

According to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) a copyright holder has a right to claim the identity of infringers without having to fill a lawsuit.

March, 2007: Subpoena to Google/YouTube from Magnolia Pictures for providing information about a user on YouTube, who calls him/herself "halifixation". This user has submitted a video, whose copyright holder was Magnolia Pictures. The video was an Award-nominated documentary "Enron: Smartest Guy in the Room". After this subpoena, the user was immediately removed from YouTube.

February 21, 2006: Google subpoenaed from American Airlines. The latter demanded from Google to reveal the identity of the user, who posted a training video, which was apparently copyrighted by American Airlines. The 'video-sharing site' YouTube (not under Google at that time) has received a similar subpoena.

January 31, March 13, 2006 (Read more.. : Google received a subpoena from U.S. Magistrate Judge to offer full content of a Gmail account, including deleted messages.


If you are in any financial problems but you are daring enough to get some money, SUE GOOGLE and ask these people how they made it: Blake Field, Gordon Roy Parker, Carl Person, Theresa Bradley, Mark G. Maughan, Mark Roberts, Chris Langdon, Jonathan T. Taplin (Intertainer), Jeffrey Toback; or you could contact these companies and institutions: Perfect 10, Agence France-Presse (France), U.S. Authors' Guild, Association of American Publishers, ServersCheck BVBA (Belgium), La Martiniere Groupe (Belgium), Copiepresse (Belgium), Viacom, Humor University (Korea), CLRB Hanson Industries, Government Employees Insurance Company (GEICO), Rescuecom Corporation, JTH Tax, Inc., "Jews for Jesus", Cash 'n Go, SearchKing, Kinderstart.com, Click Defense, Department of Justice, Universal Tube and Rollform Equipment Corporation, Advanced Internet Techs., Inc., Netjumper software, McGRawl-Hill, Digital Envoy. They could probably give you a piece of advice!

(On top...)

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