In Google Inc v Equustek Solutions Inc  SCC 34, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld a world-wide injunction issued against Google, as a non-party, requiring Google to de-index websites associated with copyright infringement.
Equustek Solutions Inc (Equustek), a manufacturer of industrial networking equipment, brought proceedings against its distributor, Datalink. Datalink manufactured and digitally marketed a competing product that infringed Equustek's intellectual property. Datalink abandoned the proceedings, refused to comply with earlier injunctions, and left the jurisdiction.
Equustek obtained an injunction requiring Google to de-index Datalink's websites world-wide. Google unsuccessfully appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.
The Court considered a global injunction necessary to prevent irreparable harm to Equustek. Although Google had de-indexed Datalink's pages from searches conducted on "google.ca", the pages remained accessible through foreign Google URLs.
Google submitted the grant of an order with extra-territorial effect violated international comity and required Google to violate the laws of foreign jurisdictions. Without being provided evidence to support Google's submission, the Court dismissed these concerns as theoretical, noting that most countries recognise breach of intellectual property rights as a legal wrong.
The Court also rejected Google's submission that as a non-party to the substantive proceedings it could not be the subject of an interlocutory injunction, citing extensive authority to the contrary.
Google argued the injunction infringed freedom of expression. Abella J held the injunction did not remove speech that engaged freedom of expression values, because freedom of expression did not embrace the unlawful sale of goods.
Finally, the balance of convenience favoured granting the injunction - world-wide de-indexing could be done at one location from which Google's search engine was controlled.
The decision is likely to be highly persuasive in New Zealand.
See the Court's decision here.