This week the Supreme Court of Canada heard an appeal by Google against a 2015 decision of the Supreme Court of British Columbia requiring Google to remove hundreds of links and to modify search results in order to block traffic to websites carrying infringing products. Click here to see a webcast of the SCC hearing.
Google was not a party to the original dispute between B.C.-based Equustek Solutions Inc., and its former distributor, yet the BC court found that it had territorial competence over Google, as well as an inherent jurisdiction to issue an injunction against it in order to preserve the “rule of law”. At issue before the Supreme Court of Canada is whether local or national courts may compel non-party technology companies located outside of Canada, to take positive action. Some argue that the court order effectively shifts to Google responsibility that should arguably fall on the shoulders of law enforcement agencies. Google argues that it has done nothing wrong, and yet it is being forced to bear the costs and responsibility for searching and taking down the defendant’s websites.
Moreover, Google may now need to alter its worldwide search results in order to comply with the BC court order. The implications are significant: will this open the door to other, more authoritarian jurisdictions, effectively imposing restrictions on technology companies? Could foreign courts impose limitations on Internet content? How will companies be able to quantify and/or limit this potentially unlimited risk? We will continue to track this case for further updates.
NHL Expansion Team in Trademark Trouble – USPTO Issues Preliminary Refusal Against “VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS” Application
Not even a major franchise system like the NHL is immune from trademark troubles: the USPTO has issued a preliminary refusal against the NHL expansion team’s trademark application for VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS (Ser. No. 87/147,239).
The NHL had announced the name of its newest expansion team a mere two weeks prior to the USPTO refusal. The USPTO’s objection is based on potential confusion with a prior registration in the name of the College of Saint Rose in New York, which also has a team called the GOLDEN KNIGHTS. According to the USPTO: “The evidence suggests the services of both the applicant and registrant are similar in nature; consumers of sports entertainment services enjoy both professional and collegiate-level sports, and sometimes even prefer the latter over the former. The registrant’s services are presumed to include all sports played at the collegiate level, including hockey. Therefore, the services of the applicant and registrant are considered related for the purposes of the likelihood of confusion analysis.”
The NHL has indicated that it intends to argue against the citation and that it is not presently considering re-branding for its new franchise team. The NHL team has until June 2017 to respond to the USPTO’s objections.
Interestingly, Clarkson University (which is also located in New York State), has a Division I hockey team nicknamed the GOLDEN KNIGHTS. According to news reports, Clarkson entered into a peaceful co-existence agreement with the Las Vegas NHL team earlier this year.
We will continue to monitor this story.