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Fed. Judge Orders Google to Remove Sites From Search Results

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on December 01, 2011 9:25 AM

A fake Chanel lawsuit seems to be causing quite the stir. The real luxury manufacturer sued about 600 websites in federal court seeking an injunction against the sale of fake goods. But it's not the trademark infringement itself that is gaining attention: It's an order issued by the federal judge overseeing the case.

In addition to granting a preliminary injunction against the defendant websites, the judge instructs all Internet search engines and social networks to remove access to those sites. He specifically tells Google, Yahoo, Twitter and Facebook to "de-index" the domain names from all search results.

The judge also orders the top-level domain registries (.com, .net, .biz) to transfer registration to GoDaddy, explains PC World. GoDaddy is then instructed to redirect all infringing domains to a copy of the court order.

The above is shocking and brings up two questions. First, the court granted a preliminary injunction, which means the fake Chanel lawsuit is really just begining. While he can tell the websites to stop selling fake goods, can the judge order a transfer of domain ownership at this point in time?

And second, what exactly is the federal court’s legal authority, if any, to make these demands of Google or GoDaddy? Since the companies were not parties to the lawsuit, how is the court exercising its jurisdiction over them?

Though it'll be interesting to see how the search engines, social networks and domain registrars react to the fake Chanel lawsuit and Internet companies will be anxious for a resolution, we may not have to wait long. For those not following the current debate over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), that legislation would specifically empower courts to make similar demands.

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