Judge Rules To Protect Internet Trade Secret

trade secret lawsuits Judge Rules To Protect Internet Trade Secret

Google has won another trade secret legal battle.

Good ‘ole Google has won another Internet trade secret legal battle. The search engine giant is embroiled in a legal tussle with both GoDaddy and The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (a.k.a., the “Oscars” people). To be clear, neither GoDaddy nor AMPAS is suing Google; instead, AMPAS is filing a claim against GoDaddy over a cybersquatting/online intellectual property issue.Unexpectedly, the case could have a significant impact on Internet trade secret law.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences v. GoDaddy

You’ve probably seen the GoDaddy “parked” sites before; they feature the infamous logo and ads related to the domain name. What you may not know, though, is that the people who own those domains, if they’re enrolled in the registrar’s “CashParking” program, earn revenues off those ads. So in theory, if you purchase the right URL, ad revenues from these undeveloped sites can be impressive.

That’s probably why some enterprising online marketer purchased the domains oscarlist.com and oscarliveblogging.com. During Oscar season, those terms are searched frequently, which translates to significant online ad revenues.

But the Academy isn’t thrilled with GoDaddy’s program. They feel the hosting company is unfairly infringing on their online intellectual property rights by profiting off these “parked” sites.

So how does Google factor in? Both GoDaddy and AMPAS are pointing fingers, saying that Google’s AdSense program is the real issue. AMPAS says they need to examine Google’s program to see if the company takes precautions against intellectual property infringement, in addition to the revenue share calculations. GoDaddy, on the other hand, is trying to build an Anti-Cybersquatting Protection Act defense by arguing that Google is “solely responsible” for any inappropriate domain profit gain.

Despite the wishes of AMPAS and GoDaddy, Paul Grewal – a U.S. magistrate judge – ruled the Google discovery requests would be “burdensome” since the company deals with nearly 10,000 third-party discovery demands. Specifically, the judge reasoned:

“AMPAS has not shown that the 4,000 pages of documents Google already produced does not provide the information it needs or why at least some of the additional discovery it wants was not obtained from GoDaddy or public sources.”

Bad Faith Intent To Profit In Cybersquatting Lawsuit

The crux of the AMPAS v. GoDaddy lawsuit is whether or not GoDaddy engaged in a program with a “bad faith intent to profit.” In online intellectual property cases, it’s usually not enough to say that someone is inappropriately using a questionable domain (though, there are exceptions). Plaintiffs in such cases need to prove that the defendant is somehow profiting off the alleged infringement.

Now, there are many ways an attorney can argue profit loss, or potential profit loss, so it’s important to find a lawyer who has experience with Internet copyright litigation.