California court issues injunction in Canadian order on Google searches

By Sara McCleary | Nov 17, 2017

SAN JOSE – A California court has deemed unenforceable a Canadian order directing Google to remove search results from all of its domains.

The issue revolves around a case brought to the British Columbia courts by B.C.-based business Equustek Solutions. Aaron Mackey at Electronic Frontier Foundation explained the basics of the case for Northern California Record

“Equustek’s underlying claims in the case are that several parties violated Canadian trade secret law and counterfeited Equustek products,” Mackey said. “Those defendants never showed up in the British Columbia court to defend against Equustek’s claims. As a result, the court issued a default judgment against them. Equustek then sought to prevent those defendants’ products from being sold online.”

Google voluntarily removed search results under its domains that led users to the products, but Equustek received a Canadian court order requiring Google to delete the results from all of its domains.

Judge Edward J. Davila

Google appealed to the British Columbia Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada, both of which upheld the order. However, the supreme court stated, “If Google has evidence that complying with such an injunction would require it to violate the laws of another jurisdiction, including interfering with freedom of expression, it is always free to apply to the British Columbia courts to vary the interlocutory order accordingly.”

The tech giant then took the matter to the Northern District of California, where Judge Edward Davila granted the request for a preliminary injunction. The court found “By forcing intermediaries to remove links to third-party material, the Canadian order undermines the policy goals of Section 230 and threatens free speech on the global internet.”

Mackey believes the California order satisfies the Canadian court’s request for evidence. “Because the Canadian Supreme Court’s ruling earlier this summer explicitly invited Google to demonstrate the underlying order’s illegality in a U.S. court, I hope the British Columbia court recognizes Google’s proof that the order violates U.S. law,” he said.

However, what the outcome be when Google takes the new order to the British Columbia court is still somewhat uncertain. 

“It is not guaranteed that the British Columbia court will modify or stop enforcement of the worldwide injunction it previously issued against Google,” Mackey said. “I certainly hope that the British Columbia court modifies or rescinds its order in light of the U.S. court’s decision. That order clearly explains why the Canadian order violates U.S. law.” 

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