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Update 21: September 18, 2004

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.

Text of the decision

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.

Although the Oslo District court found in its October 28, 2003 judgement that users, with the help of links from  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 provider.

An article about that decision was published in IRIS Legal Observations of the European Audiovisual Observatory (English / German)

Text of decision 


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,
    "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 schuldig befunden."

  • 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 Press 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,, which maintains their search engines., for its part, blamed the error on a technical glitch...

  • July 15, 2004: Kerry-Bashing durch Regierungs-Suchmaschine,
    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 erbracht haben.

  • 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 section:

  • September 3, 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" ( against being used as a Google AdWords and is filing a suit with the district court in Hamburg, Germany."

  • August 18, 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."

  • August 4, 2004: Zweierlei Maß?,
    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."


New in Legal Resources:  

  • Claus, Christoph, Hyperlinks und die Nutzung und Verwertung von geschützten Inhalten im Internet, 2004



The Links & Law website is updated regularily, so  check back for updated information and resources about search engine and linking issues.

You are currently in the archive with older news. A complete list of the updates can be found here!

Latest News - Update 71

Legal trouble for YouTube in Germany

Germany: Employer may google job applicant

EU: Consultation on the E-Commerce-Directive

WIPO Paper on tradmarks and the internet

The ECJ and the AdWords Cases



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