The Supreme Court of Canada recently issued a ruling that forbade Google from displaying the websites from a company accused of counterfeiting a Canadian technology company’s product.
These websites are prohibited from being displayed anywhere in the world. The top court sided with a B.C. lower court, that issued an injunction against Google to stop them from featuring the company’s websites.
The original dispute originated in 2011. It centered on a manufacturing company, Equustek Solutions Inc., claiming that its distributor was passing off one of their products as its own. Equustek maintains that the distributor, Datalink Technologies Gateways, gained access to some of its confidential technology and created an identical product.
B.C. courts have issued court orders telling the distributor to stop selling the product. However, Datalink left the province and continues selling the product in dispute around the world.
In an effort to further stop Datalink from advertising the product, Equustek asked Google to remove Datalink from its search engines. Google agreed as long as a court order was issued. However, while Google removed web pages, Datalink’s website stayed up. This allowed the company to move the product advertisement to new pages in its websites.
An injunction was granted by the lower court, at Equustek’s request, to stop Google from displaying Datalink’s “anywhere in the world”. Google contested this prohibition and took it all the way to the Supreme Court, where it lost. The court said that Canadian courts are allowed to grant injunctions that have global implications.
Critics of the decision claim the ruling will have wider implications on free speech on the Internet. Specifically, that both Google and local courts could decide what websites individuals may access.
What wider implications this ruling will have on businesses in Canada remains to be seen.