British Columbia Court of Appeal Refuses to Stay Enforcement in Equustek Solutions v. Google

As reported here, on June 13, 2014, the Supreme Court of British Columbia ordered Google to block a website worldwide in Equustek Solutions Inc. v. Jack. Later, Google applied for leave to appeal the decision and for an order staying the enforcement of the order. On July 23, 2014, the Court of Appeal of British Columbia granted Google leave to appeal the decision but refused to stay enforcement of the injunction.

The Court granted leave to appeal since “[t]his is clearly a case where there are arguable novel and complex issues raised on appeal.” (§ 21).

In refusing to stay the enforcement of the order to delist the infringing website worldwide, the Court of Appeal noted that “[t]he lack of evidence of irreparable harm, in particular, leads [. . . ] to the conclusion that Google’s application must be dismissed.” (§ 27). The Court continues by stating that:

Google does not lead evidence to the effect, or argue, that it or the public will suffer irreparable harm as a result of the specific order made below. [ . . . ]. Google argues, rather, that it will suffer irreparable harm as a result of the precedent established by the granting and enforcement of the injunction. [ . . . ]. It argues the enforcement of the injunction and presumably its observation by Google may result in other jurisdictions regarding Google as a vehicle for global enforcement of their laws. It makes a “floodgates” argument to the effect that similar orders in other jurisdictions may result in global content on the Internet being reduced to the lowest common denominator. It is of the view that compliance with the order would cause users to lose trust in the credibility of the Google search engine and lead to a loss of business. (§ 30-31).

The Court finally concluded that this is an argument that should be rejected in principle and no weight should be given to

the argument that Google’s reputation will suffer if it acts in accordance with the rule of law, appeals those decisions it believes will have an adverse impact on its clients, assiduously defends its business and its clients’ interests and pursues its appeal diligently. It would be wrong in principle for me to recognize, as irreparable harm, any damage to Google’s reputation that might result from its clients’ misapprehension of procedure in this jurisdiction [ . . . ]. (§ 36).

The full reasoning of the Court of Appeal in Equustek Solutions Inc. v. Google Inc.,  2014 BCCA 295 can be found here.

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