Belgian ServersCheck summons Google to court for suggesting illegal versions of its software Update - CEO BlogThe initiative follows the decision of the Leuven courts in summary proceedings of 11 May
Leuven (Belgium), 17 May 2006 - ServersCheck, the Leuven supplier of monitoring software and hardware for ICT-infrastructure, confirms the article in the Belgian newspaper De Standaard and will begin its case against Google Benelux at the commercial court in Leuven today. The cause is the Google Toolbar, a part of the search toolbars in Internet Explorer and Firefox, in which Google suggests illegal or cracked versions of the ServersCheck-software to surfers for the keyword "ServersCheck". ServersCheck distributes the majority of its products via the Internet.
Via the Google Toolbar, Google offers suggestions to the search 'in real-time'. When a user of such toolbars enters the keyword 'serverscheck', Google suggests illegal versions of the ServersCheck products, even before displaying the search results themselves. That is comparable to a person calling enquiries to ask where a well-known brand of handbag is for sale and being suggested to look for illegal counterfeit handbags.
On 14 February 2006 ServersCheck already introduced a court case at the Leuven summary court against Google Benelux. That case followed after a registered letter and various telephone calls from ServersCheck to Google with a request to cease suggesting illegal versions of the software. ServersCheck also demanded the deletion of the name ServersCheck in adverts from competitors via so-called Google AdWords. To the regret of ServersCheck, Google Benelux did not comply with those requests which made a court case the only alternative.
On 11 May 2006 the Leuven summary judge pronounced a judgement. In the judgement the court pronounced itself competent to consider this matter. The claim from ServersCheck was also pronounced admissible. In this the judge dismissed the claim from Google. During the case Google adapted its own AdWords-service as requested by ServersCheck, as a result of which the Belgian summary judge no longer had to pronounce judgement on that matter.
The Leuven summary court noted that Google had not made any efforts to resolve the 'Google Suggest'-issue. Google only put forward its 'notice and take down'-procedure. In this Google asks for all illegal websites to be reported to it so that it can remove them from its index. Nevertheless Google will continue to suggest illegal versions when a person searches for 'serverscheck' via the Google Toolbar. The core of the problem is not, after all, the Google-index, but the suggestion Google makes. However the court could not pronounce judgement concerning the 'Google Suggest'-issue because it could be considered just as quickly via ordinary proceedings. Based on that judgement ServersCheck consequently also decided to start proceedings on the merits.
"We regret that Google cannot comply with the simple request of ServersCheck and that we are forced as a result to request the cessation of these dishonest practices via the courts," says Maarten Van Laere, CEO of ServersCheck. "Google changed its suggestion module in the past, for example for sexually related keywords, credit card numbers and trace numbers of courier services, so it must be possible practically. Google only offers to remove the websites that offer illegal versions but will not do anything about changing the suggestion itself. The damage suffered by us will only grow as a result of the increasing popularity of such search bars. As an innovative Belgian SMB it is already difficult to compete at world level. It becomes even more difficult when respected and leading companies like Google destroy this innovation by suggesting software piracy."
ServersCheck is not asking Google to remove illegal sites from its index but simply asks Google not suggesting illegal versions to users who are looking for their products when entering 'serverscheck' as a keyword in the Google Toolbar.
'Google Suggest' not adaptable?
Google itself repeatedly claimed that it is not possible to adapt its Google Suggest. Nevertheless it is apparent from research that Google is able to do so. For example no suggestions are offered for sexually explicit keywords or credit card numbers or trace numbers from courier companies.
Peer-to-peer-software companies like Kazaa and Napster have been sentenced in some cases because it was possible to share illegal software products and others via their platform. According to ServersCheck Google goes one step further: it actually suggests illegal versions of ServersCheck-products.
UPDATES (CEO BLOG)
With the updates below our CEO, Maarten Van Laere, wants to keep you up to date with the latest around this issue.
13.JUNE.2006: Over the past several weeks we have made multiple attempts to try and enter into a dialogue with Google (fax, national radio, etc..) Different organizations and people have offered us their help in bringing Google around the table in an attempt to resolve the issue amicably. No one got so far a reaction from Google. They seem to ignore us. In my personal opinion, Google's attitude towards us, convinces me that they prefer legal battle rather than adopting a no-evil attitude and amicably resolve it.
19.MAY.2006: The only thing we ask is that Google does no longer offers suggestions for illegal versions of our software when only the keyword "serverscheck" is entered through the suggest functionality. We want to make it clear that starting a lawsuit against Google was our very last option. Back in early February we asked Google, in writing and through several phone calls, to address the issue. Google never got back to us. As communication seemed impossible, we decided to go on with a lawsuit. Even yesterday we sent them a fax inviting them to work together to find a solution for the problem. No answer. Unfortunately a lawsuit seems to be the only option to work on this matter with Google. We really regret this situation as we felt that the issue could be solved very easily since Google has already done it, at its own discretion, in the past for other keywords.
Picture source: De Standaard