#CyberFLASH: Google and Facebook cases dominate Supreme Court fall session

supreme-courtjpg.jpg.size.xxlarge.letterboxOTTAWA—Can a Canadian court curb Google search results worldwide if they advertise a Canadian company’s counterfeiting competitor? Does Facebook violate your privacy rights when it uses your name and photo in ads to endorse products after you “liked” a website? What’s the proper test to release a convicted murderer on bail while he appeals a conviction?

They’re just some of the big questions among 29 appeals facing a short-handed Supreme Court of Canada as it starts a busy fall session next month.

Six months after Thomas Cromwell announced his Aug. 31 retirement, no replacement has been chosen. The deadline for a shortlist of interested candidates to be submitted to the prime minister is the end of this week.

But the high court’s work cannot be put on hold. So, seven or eight judges will sit on panels through October and likely into November while the time-consuming vetting and consultation process for a new judge is completed.

At the heart of the Google case is how far Canadian courts can go to uphold the public interest — in this case the intellectual property rights of an industrial design company — as defined and protected by Canadian statutes. The small Burnaby technology business sued a company called Datalink for stealing their company secrets and manufacturing a competing product. It also got an injunction against Google from displaying search results related to the company, which operates from an undisclosed location.

Google said it has nothing to do with the lawsuit but was dragged into it, even though the offending website is still operating and available “using readily available information location tools, such as other search engines and social networking sites.”

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