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Business News of Tuesday, 14 November 2023


Google asks court to dismiss Nigerian’s $150 million damages suit

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Google LLC, an American multinational technology company, has urged a Federal High Court, Abuja to dismiss the 150 million dollar suit filed by a Nigerian, Mr Chianugo Peter, against it and

Google, the 2nd defendant in the suit, told Justice Obiora Egwuatu that Peter’s claims were unmeritorious, unworthy and should be dismissed.

The company made the averment in its statement of defense dated Nov. 9 and filed Nov. 10 by its lawyer, Mark Mordi, SAN.

Peter had sued GoDaddy.Com LLC and Google LLC as 1st and 2nd defendants over allegations bordering on the shutdown of his YouTube Audio domain name after eight years of promotional and marketing works.

The plaintiff, through his lawyer, Emmanuel Ekpenyong of Fred-Young & Evans LP, filed the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/238/2023 on April 14.

Reliefs being sought

Peter sought the court declaration that he registered the YouTube Audio business name, and commenced trademark registration on the logo of the business name.

He also said that he secured the domain name from GoDaddy in good faith to carry out genuine business to host his application thereon to attract users.

He also sought a declaration that since GoDaddy and Google encouraged him to make use of the domain name for the past eight years, “they are estopped from claiming that the domain name infringes any of their trademarks or deny the plaintiff the use of the domain name.

He is also seeking: “A declaration of this honourable court that the plaintiff is entitled to compensation from the defendants for the loss of the brand and goodwill which has accrued on the brand and domain name for eight years of promotional and marketing works from 2nd July 2015 to 7th December 2022.”

Other requests

Peter, therefore, sought an order directing the defendants to pay him the sum of $50 million for promotional and marketing works on the YouTube Audio business name and YouTube domain name for eight years from July 2, 2015, to Dec. 7, 2022.

“An order of this honourable court directing the defendants to pay the sum of 100, 000, 000 dollars to the plaintiff for loss of anticipated profits associated with the brand equity and goodwill of YouTube Audio and YouTube domain name.

“An order of this honourable court directing the defendants to pay the Plaintiff the sum of N50, 000, 000 (Fifty Million naira) to enable the plaintiff to carry out fresh registrations of its new name and secure an alternative domain name to host its application to attract users.

“An order of this honourable court directing the defendants to pay the sum of N10, 00, 000 (Ten Million naira) paid to the plaintiff’s counsel for the prosecution of this suit.”

Google’s reaction

In its reaction, Google argued that Peter did not act in good faith when he registered the YOUTUBE AUDIO business name and the domain name.

According to the company, the plaintiff was aware of his lack of bona fide claim because he approached it before he commenced operation “and acknowledged the 2nd defendant (Google)’s rights.

It gave reasons Peter should not be entitled to any of the reliefs sought in his statement of claim. According to Google, the plaintiff does not own the YOUTUBE trademark nor does he have a bona fide claim to use or register any mark that incorporates or is similar to the YOUTUBE trademark.

“The 2nd defendant is the international owner of the duly registered and famous ‘YOUTUBE’ word and ‘YOUTUBE GO’ logo trademarks in Nigeria and worldwide. The 2nd defendant started using its YOUTUBE trademark in February 2005 internationally.

“In addition, the 2nd defendant’s YOUTUBE trademark was first registered in Nigeria in 2007. Such use and registration in Nigeria was prior to the plaintiff’s use in Nigeria, which only commenced in 2015,” the company argued.
When the matter was called on Monday, the plaintiff’s counsel, Jude Otakpor, told the court that while he was in receipt of Google’s statement of defence, GoDaddy was yet to put up an appearance in court. The lawyer, who appeared for Google, Okimute Ohwahwa, said she had an application for an extension of time to regularise their processes.

Ohwahwa said their statement of defence was dated Nov. 9 and filed Nov. 10. Otakpor did not oppose Ohwahwa’s oral application and Justice Egwuatu granted it. Otakpor, however, sought an adjournment to enable them to file a reply to Google’s statement of defence.

The judge, who adjourned the matter until Feb 12, 2024, directed that a hearing notice be issued on GoDaddy.