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OCT
23
2 YEARS

Academy Denied Google Probe in Oscars Trademark Lawsuit

The discovery motion came in a lawsuit over a GoDaddy program allowing people to "park" Academy Awards-related domain names.

The Academy Awards Statue and Sign - H 2012
Getty Images

A California federal judge won't order Google to submit more documents and make available its executives in a legal fight over whether domain registrar giant GoDaddy facilitates the cybersquatting of trademarks related to the Academy Awards.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is currently suing GoDaddy over a program that allows users to buy a domain like oscarlist.com or oscarsliveblogging.com, "park" the page and collect advertising revenue. In this bitter legal dispute, AMPAS and GoDaddy don't agree on much, but one thing they saw eye-to-eye on was the need to get more information from Google.

Unfortunately for both of them, U.S. magistrate judge Paul Grewal agrees with neither of them, ruling in a decision on Friday that a motion to compel discovery against Google would be burdensome on the search giant.

In the lawsuit, AMPAS will need to demonstrate a "bad faith intent to profit" from websites illegitimately registered.

AMPAS, which puts on the Oscars each year, asked that Google produce documents and be forced to sit for depositions so it could learn about implementation of Google Adsense in GoDaddy's Parked Pages Program, methods for preventing trademark infringement, and revenue sharing between Google and GoDaddy, among other things.

Meanwhile, GoDaddy has been slowly building a defense that that it cannot be liable under the Anti-Cybersquatting Protection Act because Google's Adsense program is "solely responsible" for the profit intentions of cybersquatters.

One side wanted to peak under Google's bed. The other side wanted to shake the bed. Thus, the investigation into Google was launched. Together, as the judge remarks, AMPAS and GoDaddy presented a "unified front" as Google cried foul.

Playing the referee, Judge Grewall says in his ruling, "AMPAS has not shown that the 4,000 pages of documents Google already produced does not provide the information it needs or why at least some of the additional discovery it wants was not obtained from GoDaddy or public sources."

And as for GoDaddy's own request, the judge won't allow a fishing expedition.

"While the court is not persuaded by Google's general tale of woe based on the more than 10,000 third-party discovery requests that it receives each year, AMPAS has not shown sufficient grounds here to justify subjecting Google to the additional burdens..."

Judge Grewall also agrees that GoDaddy "bargained away" an opportunity to make subpoena demands from Google in this dispute when it retained an attorney from the law firm Bryan Cave, who represents Google in other matters and had to attain a waiver to handle this case.

Here's the ruling.

E-mail: eriq.gardner@thr.com; Twitter: @eriqgardner