Google Resists Subpoena for Keyword Ad Purchases–Connor Sport Court v. Google

By Eric Goldman

Connor Sport Court International, Inc. v. Google Inc., CV-06-3066 PHX JAT // CV 07-80252 (N.D. Cal. motion to compel filed Oct. 31, 2007)

This summer, I reported on trademark litigation between Connor Sport Court and Rhino Court. The parties had settled the lawsuit, but then Connor complained that Rhino violated the settlement by buying keyword advertising triggered to Connor’s trademarks. Connor then submitted a discovery request to Google seeking records of other people who had bought Connor’s trademarks as keywords. As I noted at the time, the requested information had significant competitive value, and Google’s delivery of the information could prompt a lot of other similar discovery requests to Google.

Initially, Google seemed inclined to give Connor the data it asked for, but apparently Google changed its mind. Instead, Google has refused to turn over any data related to third party purchases and didn’t turn over much related to Rhino. Connor apparently still believes the requested information is worth pursuing, because it has now filed a motion to compel Google to comply with its discovery request.

Google might take the opportunity to clarify its policies regarding the disclosure of keyword ad purchases. Connor’s brief claims that Google provided Rhino with information about a third party’s ad purchase, including the ad copy, the maximum cost-per-click bid, the number of clicks and impressions, the average ad position and more. Is Google handing out this information merely based on a subpoena, or is Google going to make it harder for litigants to get access to this data? According to the filing, the hearing is scheduled for Dec. 7 at 9 am in San Jose.