INTERNET LAW AND STRATEGY
Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati has long played a central role in shaping the legal landscape for the online world. Our Internet law and strategy practice routinely tackles cutting-edge issues, from the earliest lawsuits over the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Internet domain names, and search engines to today's cases over social media, privacy, mobile, free speech, and government regulation. Our team of creative attorneys has established groundbreaking precedent in case after case:
Because of our extensive litigation experience with these issues, our attorneys are able to craft real-world strategies for liability avoidance, advertising and monetization, data protection, and abuse prevention on behalf of industry leaders, early-stage start-ups, and a host of others in between.
Leading Internet Privacy Cases
In re: Google Inc. Street View Electronic Communications Litigation. The firm is representing Google in this multidistrict litigation, comprised of more than a dozen putative class action suits challenging the acquisition of publicly broadcast Wi-Fi data by Google's Street View vehicles from open and unencrypted wireless networks. The lawsuit alleges that Google violated the federal Wiretap Act.
In re: Google Inc. Android Consumer Privacy Litigation. The firm is representing Google in this multidistrict litigation, comprised of eight putative class action lawsuits involving claims that Google's Android operating system or apps downloaded to Android devices have mishandled user information, including information about users' locations.
In re: Google Inc. Cookie Placement Consumer Privacy Litigation. The firm is representing Google in this complex, multi-defendant multidistrict litigation comprised of more than 20 putative class actions arising from allegations that Google improperly placed cookies on Safari web browsers. Plaintiffs assert claims arising under the Federal Wiretap and Computer Fraud and Abuse Acts, as well as various California state laws. Google's motion to dismiss plaintiffs' complaint was granted in October 2013. That decision is currently on appeal to the Third Circuit.
In re: Nickelodeon Consumer Privacy Litigation. The firm is representing Google in this multidistrict litigation comprised of six putative class action lawsuits alleging that Internet users under age 13 who visited three Viacom-owned and operated websites received cookies that enable Viacom and Google to track certain web-based activities. Plaintiffs' claims against Google arise under the Federal Wiretap Act and Video Privacy Protection Acts, as well as state laws. Google's motion to dismiss plaintiffs' complaint was granted in July 2014.
Mollett v. Netflix (N.D. Cal.). In 2011, a consumer filed a class action complaint against Netflix alleging that the company's streaming service violates state and federal privacy laws, including the Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA), by displaying a member's "queue" on their entertainment devices (e.g., televisions, home computers). The complaint was dismissed with prejudice by the district court and is currently before the Ninth Circuit.
Boring v. Google Inc. (W.D. Pa.). In this highly publicized case, the firm obtained a dismissal with prejudice of all privacy-related claims asserted against Google at the earliest stage of the litigation. The plaintiffs (a couple living in the Pittsburgh area) had alleged that while taking photographs for Google's Street View feature, a Google driver had entered onto their driveway. On this basis, the plaintiffs asserted claims for invasion of privacy, negligence, and other common law torts. The firm convinced the court that the conduct at issue did not (and could not) constitute invasion of privacy and that the plaintiffs' analogous claims were similarly devoid of merit. Those determinations were affirmed by the Third Circuit.
Levine v. XO Communications (N.J. Ct. of Appeals). The firm defended a putative class action brought against telecommunications provider XO Communications that alleged violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. The plaintiff claimed that XO had sent unsolicited facsimile advertisements to a supposed class of some 100,000 recipients and sought $150 million in statutory damages. In the Hudson County Superior Court in New Jersey, XO prevailed on a motion declaring that the case could not be maintained as a class action. When the plaintiff appealed, XO obtained the first-ever appellate court decision declaring that claims under the TCPA could not properly be brought as class actions.
Viacom v. YouTube/Google & English Premier League v. YouTube/Google (S.D.N.Y.). The firm represents Google in these copyright infringement actions, which challenged YouTube's operations and are pending in the Southern District of New York on remand from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. In addition to securing summary judgment for YouTube, the firm secured orders barring the recovery of punitive damages in copyright infringement actions and requiring that foreign plaintiffs register their copyrights in order to seek statutory damages under the Copyright Act. The firm also secured orders protecting Google's source code and users' private videos from disclosure during discovery. The Second Circuit's opinion can be found here. On remand, the district court again granted YouTube's renewed motion for summary judgment in the Viacom action. Viacom's appeal of that ruling to the Second Circuit is currently pending. The district denied the motion for class certification in the Premier League action, which was subsequently resolved.
In Re Jet Blue Airways (E.D.N.Y.). We successfully defended Acxiom Corporation against a nationwide class action alleging violations of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and related state law claims. The firm obtained an early dismissal of the case with prejudice.
Bell v. Acxiom (D. Ark.). In another privacy-related nationwide class action against Acxiom, the firm secured a dismissal with prejudice of the plaintiffs' invasion-of-privacy and negligence claims on the then-novel theory that the plaintiff lacked standing because he could not show actual harm.
Bruno v. BioForm Medical (D. Conn.). The firm successfully defended BioForm Medical in this action alleging invasion of privacy and copyright infringement for use of photographs allegedly disclosing private medical information. The firm invoked the plaintiff's inability to demonstrate a privacy interest in the images in question and lack of entitlement to statutory copyright damages to win a very favorable settlement.
Narson v. GoDaddy (D. Ariz.) and Simonoff v. Expedia (W.D. Wash.). The firm successfully defended GoDaddy in a purported class action lawsuit alleging that GoDaddy violated the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (FACTA) by including more than the last five digits of credit or debit card numbers and/or card expiration dates on receipts provided to its customers via the Internet. The court agreed with Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati's argument that FACTA does not apply to Internet merchants who do not print paper receipts for their customers and dismissed the action with prejudice. We secured the dismissal of a similar claim against Expedia on the same grounds.
Ball v. Square (N.D. Cal.). The firm served as counsel for Square Inc. in a putative class action alleging that Square's transmission of receipts as text messages violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. WSGR secured an immediate, voluntary dismissal of the action after highlighting the flaws in the plaintiff's case.
Leading Internet Copyright Cases
Viacom v. YouTube/Google and English Premier League v. YouTube/Google (S.D.N.Y.). In landmark copyright litigation, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati successfully defended consolidated infringement actions challenging the operations of YouTube, the popular online video service owned by Google, under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. In the Viacom case, the firm secured a summary judgment in YouTube's favor, holding that the service enjoys DMCA safe harbor protection and rejecting Viacom's claims in their entirety. In the Premier League case, the firm defeated a motion for class certification, establishing that copyright cases are generally ill-suited for class action treatment. During the course of the cases, the firm's attorneys also secured orders barring the recovery of punitive damages in copyright infringement actions, requiring that owners of foreign works register their copyrights in the United States in order to seek statutory damages under the Copyright Act, and protecting Google's source code and users' private videos from disclosure during discovery.
Righthaven v. DiBiase (D. Nevada, 9th Cir). Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati attorneys secured the dismissal of an action brought by infamous copyright troll Righthaven against an online blogger. They successfully argued that Righthaven lacked standing to sue for copyright infringement, since Righthaven had improperly acquired only the bare right to sue for infringement and lacked any interest in the underlying copyright. The trial court's decision in the firm's client's favor recently was affirmed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
RealNetworks v. Streambox (W.D. Wash.). In the first-ever case brought under the anti-circumvention provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the firm served as counsel to plaintiff RealNetworks. Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati's team secured a preliminary injunction prohibiting the abuse of RealNetworks' ubiquitous technology.
Parker v. Google Inc. (E.D. Pa., 3d Cir.). In an order affirmed by the Third Circuit, the firm's attorneys obtained the dismissal of a copyright action brought against the Google Groups service. The court held that Google's non-volitional conduct in archiving Usenet postings did not constitute direct copyright infringement and ruled that the plaintiff's allegations could not give rise to secondary copyright infringement liability under the Copyright Act. The court also held that Google was immune under Section 230(c) of the Communications Decency Act from the plaintiff's state common-law claims.
Field v. Google Inc. (D. Nev.). In a case that raised several issues of first impression for online copyright claims, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati attorneys obtained summary judgment for Google in a copyright infringement action challenging the propriety of the company's cache functionality. The court's opinion held that by allowing end-users to access archival copies of web pages through "Cached" links in its search results, Google did not directly infringe the copyrights on those web pages. The court also held that Google's use of the copyrighted works was a protected fair use, that Google was immune from monetary damages under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and that Google had an implied license to cache the plaintiff's works.
UMG v. DIVX (C.D. Cal.). In this action, Universal Music Group alleged copyright infringement by DivX for hosting an online video service called Stage6 that allowed users to post and share videos using DivX's well-known digital media format. Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati successfully invoked the protections of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to win an extremely favorable settlement for DivX.
Other Key Internet Cases
Langdon v. Google (D. Del.) and Kinderstart v. Google (N.D. Cal.). In two cases challenging Google's right to control its search results and to determine which advertisements to carry, our attorneys obtained dismissals with prejudice of the actions. The Langdon court found that Google was immune from the claims under Section 230(c)(2) of the Communications Decency Act, and that the First Amendment safeguarded Google's ability to determine which advertisements to carry and how best to order its search results.
CompuServe v. CyberPromotions (S.D. Oh.). In this groundbreaking litigation, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati represented CompuServe, a leading Internet service provider seeking to protect its service and subscribers from unsolicited commercial email, or spam. Advancing a novel electronic trespass theory, the firm obtained a preliminary, and then permanent, injunction barring the defendant from sending such email to or through CompuServe.
Petroliam Nasional v. GoDaddy (9th Cir). Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati is currently defending GoDaddy in a lawsuit brought by Petronas, Malaysia's state-owned oil and gas company. Petronas has alleged that certain domain names for which GoDaddy acts as registrar incorporate Petronas' trademarks, and that GoDaddy's refusal to disable the domain names absent a court or arbitral order constitutes contributory cybersquatting. The firm defeated Petronas' emergency request for a TRO and subsequently won a summary judgment ruling dismissing all of the oil and gas company's claims. The firm is now defending that decision before the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Digital Envoy v. Google (N.D. Cal.). The firm successfully defended Google against trade secret and related claims brought by a supplier of geotargeting technology, prevailing first on an innovative preemption theory, and later on a summary judgment motion directed to the plaintiff's damages claims.
Google v. Auctions Expert (Super. Ct. Cal.). Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati filed suit on Google's behalf in its first-ever case attacking the activity known as "click fraud." The firm obtained a judgment in Google's favor and payment from the defendants.
Blue Mountain Arts v. Microsoft (Super. Ct. Cal.). The firm represented Blue Mountain, an online greeting-card company, in an unfair competition suit against Microsoft. The suit alleged that Microsoft had engaged in anticompetitive practices by widely deploying a version of its Outlook Express program with filters that blocked Blue Mountain's email messages, while permitting Microsoft's competing messages to reach their intended recipients. The firm's attorneys obtained a temporary restraining order—and later, a preliminary injunction—barring Microsoft from continuing to distribute the software.