Google litigation

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Google has been involved in multiple lawsuits over issues such as privacy, advertising, intellectual property and various Google services such as Google Books and YouTube. The company's legal department expanded from one to nearly 100 lawyers in the first five years of business, and by 2014 had grown to around 400 lawyers.[1][2] Google's Chief Legal Officer is Senior Vice President of Corporate Development David Drummond.[3]


United States v. Google Inc.[edit]

United States vs. Google Inc. is a case in which the United States District Court for the Northern District of California approved a stipulated order for a permanent injunction and a $22.5 million civil penalty judgment, the largest civil penalty the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has ever historically won.[4] The FTC and Google Inc. consented to the entry of the stipulated order to resolve the dispute which arose from Google's violation of its privacy policy. In this case, the FTC found Google liable for misrepresenting "privacy assurances to users of Apple's Safari Internet browser".[5] It was reached after the FTC considered that through the placement of advertising tracking cookies in the Safari web browser, and while serving targeted advertisements, Google violated the 2011 FTC's administrative order issued in FTC v. Google Inc.[6]

Google Spain v AEPD and Mario Costeja González[edit]

Google Spain SL, Google Inc. v Agencia Española de Protección de Datos, Mario Costeja González was a decision by the Court of Justice of the European Union holding that an internet search engine operator is responsible for the processing that it carries out of personal information which appears on web pages published by third parties.[7][8][9][10]

Hibnick v. Google, Inc.[edit]

Hibnick v Google was a class action suit against Google in 2010. The suit accused Google of breaching several electronic communications laws with the launch of their new product Google Buzz.[11][12][13] Google Buzz was a social media network that automatically plugged into Gmail.

Joffe v. Google, Inc.[edit]

Joffe v. Google, Inc. was a federal lawsuit between Ben Joffe and Google, Inc. that entered official Supreme Court jurisdiction in November 2010. Joffe claimed that Google broke one of the Wiretap Legislation segments when they intruded on the seemingly “public” wireless networks of private homes through their Street View application. Although Google appealed multiple times, the courts ruled in favor of Joffe.

Mosley v SARL Google[edit]

Mosley v SARL Google was a 2013 French court case in which former President of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile Max Mosley attempted to make the internet search engine Google remove images of him engaging in a sado-masochistic sex act with several prostitutes. The publication of the images in the (now defunct) British newspaper The News of the World was litigated in Mosley v News Group Newspapers and resulted in Mr Mosley being awarded £60,000 in damages.


Google, Inc. v. American Blind & Wallpaper Factory, Inc.[edit]

Google, Inc. v. American Blind and Wallpaper Factory, Inc.[14] was a decision of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California that challenged the legality of Google's AdWords program. The court concluded that, pending the outcome of a jury trial, Google AdWords may be in violation of trademark law.

Rescuecom Corp. v. Google Inc.[edit]

Rescuecom Corp. v. Google Inc. was a United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit case in which the court held that recommending a trademark for keyword advertising was a commercial use of the trademark, and could constitute trademark infringement. The case involved Rescuecom. Prior to the case's resolution, Google recommended the 'Rescuecom' trademark to businesses (including Rescuecom's competitors), that were buying keywords through Google's AdWords product.

Rosetta Stone v. Google Inc[edit]

Rosetta Stone v. Google was a decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit that challenged the legality of Google's AdWords program. The Court overturned a grant of summary judgment for Google that had held Google AdWords was not a violation of trademark law.

Goddard v. Google, Inc.[edit]

Goddard v. Google, Inc. is a case in which Jenna Goddard alleged that she was harmed by Google as a result of clicking allegedly fraudulent web-based advertisements for mobile subscription services. The United States District Court for the Northern District of California held that the action was barred by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act ("CDA") and dismissed the complaint.

Rocky Mountain Bank v. Google, Inc.[edit]

Rocky Mountain Bank v. Google Inc. was a decision by the United States District Court for the Northern District of California holding that Google had to reveal the account information of a Gmail user who had been mistakenly sent sensitive information from Rocky Mountain Bank.


Garcia v. Google, Inc.[edit]

Garcia v. Google, Inc. is a case where Cindy Lee Garcia sued Google and its video-sharing website, YouTube, to have the controversial film, Innocence of Muslims, taken down from the site. A California district court denied Garcia’s motion for preliminary injunction, but, on appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed the lower court’s decision, ordered YouTube to take down all copies of Innocence of Muslims, and remanded the case to the district court for reconsideration.[15] In May 2015, in an en banc opinion, the Ninth Circuit reversed the panel's decision, vacating the order for the preliminary injunction.[16][17][18]


On October 27, 2015 the Supreme Court of South Australia found in the case of Duffy v Google Inc[19] [2015] SASC 170 that Google Autocomplete perpetuated a defamation of the plaintiff for which Google was liable.

On April 30, 2020, the Supreme Court of Victoria found in the case of Defteros v Google LLC[20] [2020] VSC 219 that Google could be held liable for defamation in Australia. "The Court held that Google does publish webpages reached by clicking on hyperlinks within Google search results. The resolution of the publication issue was a necessary step to Google’s liability; Google succeeded on some defences and failed on others. Defteros was awarded $40,000."[21]

Intellectual property[edit]

Agence France Presse[edit]

In March 2005, Agence France Presse (AFP) sued Google for copyright infringement in federal court in the District of Columbia, a case which Google settled for an undisclosed amount in a pact that included a license of the full text of AFP articles for use on Google News.[22]

Viacom International Inc. v. YouTube, Inc.[edit]

Viacom International, Inc. v. YouTube, Inc. is a U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York case in which Viacom sued alleging that YouTube had engaged in "brazen" and "massive" copyright infringement by allowing users to upload and view hundreds of thousands of videos owned by Viacom without permission.[23] A motion for summary judgement seeking dismissal was filed by Google and was granted in 2010 on the grounds that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's "safe harbor" provisions shielded Google from Viacom’s copyright infringement claims.[24] In 2012, on appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, it was overturned in part. On April 18, 2013, District Judge Stanton again granted summary judgment in favor of defendant YouTube.[25] An appeal was begun, but the parties settled in March 2014.[26]

Authors Guild, Inc. V. Google, Inc.[edit]

Authors Guild v. Google was a copyright case litigated in the United States centering on the allegations by the Authors Guild that Google infringed their copyrights in developing its Google Book Search database. The Google Book Search Settlement Agreement was a proposed settlement agreement between the Authors Guild, the Association of American Publishers and Google in settlement of Authors Guild v. Google|Authors Guild et al. v. Google, a class action lawsuit alleging copyright infringement. The settlement was initially proposed in 2008, and ultimately rejected by the court in 2011. In late 2013, the presiding U.S. Circuit Judge dismissed Authors Guild et al. v. Google.[27]

Field v. Google, Inc.[edit]

Field v. Google, Inc. is a case where Google successfully defended a lawsuit for copyright infringement. Field argued that Google infringed his exclusive right to reproduce his copyrighted works when it "cached" his website and made a copy of it available on its search engine. Google raised multiple defenses: fair use, implied license, estoppel, and Digital Millennium Copyright Act safe harbor protection. The court granted Google's motion for summary judgment and denied Field's motion for summary judgment.

Mian Mian lawsuit[edit]

In December 2009, Chinese writer Mian Mian filed a lawsuit against the company, for scanning her entire novel without notifying her or paying her for copyright permission.[28] Google removed Mian's work from its online library shortly after learning of the suit. In January 2013, a Chinese court ordered Google to pay Mian compensation of 5,000 yuan (US$800) for scanning her works without permission.[29]

Bedrock Computer Technologies, LLC vs. Google, Inc[edit]

A jury in Texas awarded Bedrock Computer Technologies $5 million in a patent lawsuit against Google.[30][31] The patent allegedly covered use of hash tables with garbage collection and separate chaining in the Red Hat Linux kernel. Google and Bedrock later settled the case and the judgment was vacated by the court.[32]

Google v. Oracle America[edit]

Google v. Oracle America is a dispute related to Oracle's copyright and patent claims on Google's Android operating system specifically in context of the application programming interfaces (APIs) from the Java implementation that Google had initially used in developing the Android system. The case, originally filed by Oracle in 2010, has had a complex history between two separate hearings and jury trials at the United States District Court for the Northern District of California and two subsequent appeals at the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In May 2012, Judge William Alsup of the Northern District of California ruled that APIs are not subject to copyright. Judge Alsup determined that where “there is only one way to declare a given method functionality, [so that] everyone using that function must write that specific line of code in the same way,” that coding language cannot be subject to copyright.[33] In May 2013, Oracle appealed Judge Alsup's ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and on May 9, 2014, the Federal Circuit reversed Judge Alsup's finding that Java APIs are copyrightable, leaving open the possibility that Google might have a fair use defense.[34] In October 2014, Google filed a petition to ask the Supreme Court to review the Federal Circuit's decisions and was denied.[35] As the case returned to the district court for Google's fair use defense, in May 2016, a jury unanimously agreed that Google's use of the Java APIs was fair use.[36] Oracle then filed another appeal and in March 2018, the Federal Court rejected the jury's verdict and reversed the district court's decision again held that Google's use was not a fair use as a matter of law.[37] In 2019, Google filed another petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review both Federal Circuit decisions. The Court heard oral arguments in October 2020 and issued its opinion in April 2021, reversing the Federal Circuit and holding that Google's use of Java APIs was protected by fair use.[38][39]

Perfect 10, Inc. v. Google, Inc.[edit]

Perfect 10 v. Google, Inc., et al. was a U.S. court case for Google to stop creating and distributing thumbnails of Perfect 10's images in its Google Image Search service, and for it to stop indexing and linking to sites hosting such images. In early 2006, the court granted the request in part and denied it in part, ruling that the thumbnails were likely to be found infringing but the links were not.

Roey Gorodish v. Waze & Google Israel[edit]

A class action suit was made in March 2014 by accountant Roey Gorodish against Google Israel and Waze (acquired by Google), claiming intellectual property violation for the use of open-source FreeMap map and code from the open-source RoadMap software,[40] a project which Ehud Shabtai had contributed for the Windows PocketPC version in 2006.[41][42][43] The lawsuit was dismissed twice in Israeli courts, final verdict given by the Israeli supreme on 28 January 2019.[44]

Genericide of "google"[edit]

In 2017, David Elliot and Chris Gillespie argued before the Ninth Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals that "google" had suffered genericide. The controversy began in 2012 when Gillespie acquired 763 domain names containing the word "google". The company promptly filed a complaint with the National Arbitration Forum (NAF). Elliot then filed a petition for canceling the Google trademark. Ultimately, the court ruled in favor of Google because Elliot failed to show a preponderance of evidence showing the genericide of "google".[45]


Google is currently fighting a lawsuit filed by the US labor department claiming gender discrimination. Officials of Google said it was too financially burdensome and logistically challenging to hand over salary records that the government requested in order to investigate.[46] A judge has however ordered Google to hand over salary records to the government in this ongoing investigation by the US Department of Labor.[47]

James Damore et al. v. Google, LLC[edit]

In a lawsuit filed January 8, 2018, multiple employees and job applicants alleged Google discriminated against a class defined by their “conservative political views[,] male gender[,] and/or […] Caucasian or Asian race”.[48]

Arne Wilberg v. Google, Inc.[edit]

On January 29, 2018, YouTube technical recruiter Arne Wilberg filed a suit accusing Google “of systematically discriminating in favor job applicants who are Hispanic, African American, or female, and against Caucasian and Asian men.”[49]


In-app purchases class action[edit]

In 2014 a parent filed a class action lawsuit against Google for "in-app" purchases, which are microtransactions that can be made within applications.[50] This lawsuit followed a class action lawsuit and investigation by the Federal Trade Commission against Apple Inc. over similar complaints. (See Apple Inc. litigation -- In-app purchases class action). The parent contended that there is a 30 minute window during which authorizations can be made for credit card purchases that are designed to entice children to make such purchases in "free apps", and that Google should have been aware of the issue because of the Apple litigation.[50]

Epic Games v. Google LLC[edit]

On August 13th, 2020, Epic Games filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google after the removal of the Epic-developed game Fortnite from Google Play after an update released allowing Epic to directly sell microtransactions while bypassing the 30% revenue share with Google. Epic alleges that Google is using the 30% percent revenue share imposed on developers to enforce a monopoly on development for Android.[51] Epic filed a similar lawsuit for Apple Inc at the same time, who also removed Fortnite from the App Store (iOS) for similar reasons.[52]


Gonzales v. Google[edit]

On January 18, 2006, the U.S. Justice Department filed a motion to compel in United States district court in San Jose seeking a court order that would compel search engine company Google Inc. to turn over "a multi-stage random sample of one million URL's" from Google's database, and a computer file with "the text of each search string entered onto Google's search engine over a one-week period (absent any information identifying the person who entered such query)."[53] Google maintains that their policy has always been to assure its users' privacy and anonymity, and challenged the subpoena. On March 18, 2006, a federal judge ruled that while Google must surrender 50,000 random URLs, the Department of Justice did not meet the necessary burden to force Google to disclose any search terms entered by its users in Google.

See also[edit]


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