Google Sued For Misappropriating Trade Secrets
Google has been sued for allegedly copying portions of its video chat platform from the company Be In, which offers its own video chat program, CamUp.
Be In alleges in its complaint, filed in federal court in San Jose, Calif., that Google misappropriated trade secrets, infringed copyright in the audiovisual elements of CamUp's site and violated the Lanham Act.
A Google spokesperson declined to comment on the lawsuit, except to say that the company hadn't yet been served with the complaint.
Be In, which unveiled CamUp last year at the South by Southwest festival in Austin Texas, says that it discussed a business deal with Google at a meeting in London last April. "At this meeting ... Be In provided a live demonstration of its CamUp product, and proposed that a 'Watch with your friends' button be embedded within all YouTube pages," Be In alleges in its complaint.
Be In also says that Google signed a nondisclosure agreement at the meeting.
Around one month later, Google released Google +, which includes the video chat platform Hangouts. Be In alleges that the platform is "similar in look and feel to CamUp."
Even if that's true, Be In still has to overcome some hurdles in the case, says Eric Goldman, director of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University. One of the most
significant centers on the confidentiality agreement. The terms of that agreement -- which aren't yet public -- might not prevent Google from creating its own product.
Be In also faces a challenge because its legal claims take an "aggressive view" of intellectual property law, Goldman says.
He adds that large businesses frequently face these kinds of product-theft allegations -- often because the people in companies, as well as outside developers, are creating the same tools. "It's a very, very common problem for big companies," he says, noting that Google recently defeated a separate lawsuit by an entrepreneur who says that Google stole her idea after she discussed it over coffee with a company executive.