1. Link to Business
With Forum Contacts No Support for Jurisdiction Over Website Operator
Early in 2004, NeoMedia
Technologies, Inc filed a patent infringement lawsuits against AirClic Inc. and
Scanbuy(TM), Inc. The lawsuit was dismissed in April 2004 by the United States
District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, for lack
of personal jurisdiction. An Illinois fedreal judge held that general
jurisdiction cannot be established exclusively on the basis of a Website’s
hyperlink to other sites that sell infringing products.
The websites of both
AirClic and Scanbury allow users to submit contact information and later receive
information about products and services. Scanbury's website also contained a
hyperlink to another company (AESI) that sold products that incorporated Scanbuy
software. AESI also sold software to Illinios residents. That was not enough to
establish general jurisdiction in Illinoi. The court found that Scanbuy's
website was more akin to an advertisement, simply trying to promote its business
by attracting new customers. If personal jurisidiction would simply be based on
Scanbuy's hyperlink to a website that is active in a forum, it would establish
as precedent that any website owner who hyperlinks to a website that conducts
business online would be susceptible to personal jurisdiction in every state and
district. “It is therefore inappropriate for the hyperlink factor to tip the
scales in favor of general jurisdiction in Illinois, when it would otherwise be
lacking based solely on Scanbuy’s website,” the judge said.
The court distinguished
this case from LFG, LCC v. Zapata Corp., 78 F. Supp.2d 731 (N.D. Ill 199), a
case in which a hyperlink was found to have created jurisdiction, by pointing
out that, unlike here, the LFG website was a highly interactive portal website
whose business it was to generate traffic to linked websites.
2. Hyperlinks to
file sharing programs not illegal in Norway
In June 2002, Phonofile
sued Startsiden, Norway's most used public internet portal, arguing that by
offering hyperlinks to file sharing programs under the "MP3" subcategory, Startsiden was liable for contributing to the infringement of
Phonofile's exclusive right to electronic sale and distribution. Phonofile
demanded that Startsiden remove the hyperlinks.
the Oslo District court found in its October 28, 2003 judgement that users, with
the help of links from www.startsiden.no had downloaded file sharing
programs and distributed music files in the file sharing network thus infringing
Phonofile's protected exclusive rights, it held, however, that - although file
sharing programs can be used both illegally and legally - hyperlinking to file
sharing program cannot in itself give rise to liability for the internet portal
An article about that decision
was published in IRIS Legal Observations of the European Audiovisual Observatory
3. Michael Bradley -
A failed attempt to blackmail Google
According to the criminal
complaint, which was unsealed in San Jose in March 2004, Michael Bradley
attempted to defraud and extort money from Google by developing a software
program that automates fraudulent "clicks" on "cost-per-click"
advertisements utilized by Google. Bradley said he would sell the software
to spammers if Google did not pay him about $150,000. He was arrested in March
and unsuccessfully pled not guilty to the charges (extortion and wiretap fraud)
against him. A federal grand jury in San Jose returned an indictment at the end
of June 2004, charging him with one count of interfering with commerce by
threats and 10 counts of wire fraud.
June 25, 2004:
Cullen, Drew, Man
charged over Google blackmail attempt, The Register:
A California man who claimed to have software which automatically clicked on
Google cost-per-click ads has been charged with extortion and wiretap fraud.
June 25, 2004: Schuldspruch
für Google Erpresser, intern.de:
"Der Programmierer Michael Bradley der Google im März dieses Jahres
zur Zahlung einer größeren Geldsumme wollte, wurde von einem
Geschworenengericht wegen erpresserischer Handlungen und wegen Betrugs für
June 24, 2004, Man
indicted in Google fraud scheme, ZDNet:
A California man was arraigned on Thursday on federal extortion and wire
fraud charges arising from a software program he claimed could allow
spammers to defraud Web search company Google Inc. of millions of dollars,
federal prosecutors said.
Also see the Criminal
Complaint and the United States Attorney Northern
District of California
Release: Computer Programmer Arrested for Extortion and Mail Fraud Scheme
Targeting Google, Inc.
4. Government search
engine wants you to find websites critical to Kerry
Searches for "John
Kerry" on certain government agency websites (Department of Homeland
Security, Department of Health and Human Services) have provided links to
Republican websites, that criticise Kerry, as the top results in June 2004. Both
Departments pointed the finger at the government's official Web portal,
Firstgov.gov, which maintains their search engines. Firstgov.gov, for its part,
blamed the error on a technical glitch...
July 15, 2004: Kerry-Bashing
durch Regierungs-Suchmaschine, intern.de:
Der US-Regierung wird Suchmaschinen-Optimierung der besonderen Art
vorgeworfen. Die Suche auf den Seiten verschiedener Ministerien nach dem
Begriff "Kerry" soll parteipolitisch motivierte Ergebnisse
July 14, 2004:
Wolfe, Elizabeth, Gov't
Search Engines Link to Kerry Critics, AP:
Searching for "Kerry" on the Department of Homeland Security's Web
site Tuesday afternoon turned up an unexpected top hit: a Republican attack
on the Democratic presidential candidate.
I've also updated the Adwords
2004: Roberts, Paul: Google
May Face Another Lawsuit, PCWorld:
"A federal judge in Virginia has ruled that a trademark infringement
suit filed by the Government Employees Insurance Co. (GEICO) against
Internet search giants Google and Overture Services can proceed."
August 18, 2004: Google
AdWords in Trademark Court Case - Part 2, Yahoo News: "Metaspinner Media
GmbH is defending its registered trademark "Preispiraten" (www.preispiraten.de)
against being used as a Google AdWords and is filing a suit with the
district court in Hamburg, Germany."
2004: Orlowski, Andrew, Google
Germany faces Adwords trademark fight, The Register:
"Google will appear in court next week, hoping to put its lucrative
Adwords business in Germany onto a firmer legal footing."
"Google hat bekanntlich ein Problem mit
Markenbegriffen, die im Werbeprogramm "Adwords" als Stichwort für
die Werbeauslösung verwendet werden. Lässt man die verzwickte rechtliche
Situation außer Betracht, so wird das Problem dennoch nicht vereinfacht.
Und Google selbst verhält sich uneinheitlich in dieser Frage."
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