Court Denies Class Action Certification In Google Suit
The result is that the search giant will only have to defend itself against one company's trademark infringement and cybersquatting allegations, significantly limiting the search company's potential damages.
Federal District Court Judge Blanche Manning of the Northern District of Illinois ruled that class certification was not appropriate because the trademark issues raised in the lawsuit required individualized determinations.
Harvard Business School professor Ben Edelman, one of Vulcan Golf's lawyers, said the company was still considering its next steps. "We respectfully disagree with the court's decisions," he said in an email to Online Media Daily. "We think a class action is the only sensible way to hold defendants accountable for their actions; it would be impractical, not to mention woefully inefficient, for so many trademark holders to file suit separately."
In its lawsuit, filed last year, golf club manufacturer Vulcan Golf complained that other companies were harnessing its brand name by creating typosquatting sites like vulcanogolf.com, and then garnering ad revenue when people landed on such sites after incorrectly typing the URL. Vulcan Golf sued Google for allegedly populating the sites with ads through its parked domains program, and also sued other companies involved in creating and registering the sites.
Cyberlaw expert Eric Goldman said the decision was a boon to Google and the other defendants. "This ruling doesn't completely squelch the lawsuit, but without class certification, the case becomes a whole lot less interesting to the plaintiff's lawyers," he wrote in a blog post about the case.
Separately, Google's parked domain program has also resulted in several pending fraud lawsuits by advertisers who are unhappy that their pay-per-click ads appeared on typosquatting sites. In some of those cases, advertisers alleged that typosquatting sites are more likely to yield "invalid" clicks.