British Columbia

Google injunction to block website from search results upheld by B.C. Court of Appeal

The B.C. Court of Appeal has upheld a decision ordering Google to remove a company's website from search engine results worldwide.

B.C. Court of Appeal judges says search giant must comply with court order

The B.C. Court of Appeal has upheld an order for Google to remove a website from its worldwide search results. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/ Associated Press)

The B.C. Court of Appeal has upheld a decision ordering Google to remove a company's website from its search engine results worldwide.

The court order made in June 2014 was part of a battle between Equustek, a Burnaby, B.C., technology company that manufactures networking devices for industrial equipment, and its rival Datalink.  

Equustek alleged Datalink conspired with a former Equustek engineer to steal its product design and then sell it on the internet.

Equustek had already obtained court orders requiring Google to remove Datalink websites from its Canadian search results, but argued they are virtually useless because of the global nature of web sales.

Setting a precedent

Internet law specialist Roger McConchie believes the case sets a precedent for issues of defamatory content on the internet. 

"What this decision does is it takes that step forward," says McConchie. "It  gives people who obtain libel verdicts a way of effectively enforcing that injunction within Canadian borders."

McConchie says he thinks the case will be appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.      

Google appeal based on jurisdiction       

​Google's lawyers responded that the B.C. court did not have the jurisdiction over it because the company's operations are not in B.C., and because such an order would be unenforceable and it would infringe on its lawful business.

But Justice Lauri Ann Fenlon, who presided on the B.C. Supreme Court case, decided she did have jurisdiction. She based her decision on the fact that Equustek is in B.C., and despite being headquartered in the U.S., Google clearly does business in the province as well, by selling ads and providing search results.

On Thursday, Justice S. David Frankel, Justice Harvey Groberman and Justice David Harris at the B.C. Court of Appeal agreed with that decision.

"I am of the view that the order that was granted was one that was within the competence (i.e., jurisdiction) of the Supreme Court of British Columbia," wrote Justice Groberman.

The case has the potential to be precedent-setting, because while other courts have ordered Google to act on a country-by-country basis, there is no known case of a worldwide court order.

With files from Jason Proctor

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