WASHINGTON, Jan. 22, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- This afternoon, the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition (IACC), a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization committed to combating trademark counterfeiting and piracy, filed a "friend of the court" brief urging the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi to deny Google's request for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction in a dispute between the online company and Mississippi Attorney General, Jim Hood.
Google filed in federal court last December, after receiving a subpoena from Attorney General Hood, arguing that it was protected by federal law and the First Amendment. The subpoena requested information from Google concerning its policies and practices for the company's products – including its search engine, advertising services, and YouTube platform – related to the sale or distribution of counterfeit goods and other illegal products.
Counterfeit products pose serious risks to consumer health and safety. Fake medicines, electrical products, smoke detectors, cosmetics, perfumes and contact lenses among other items have all been found to be available online to the unsuspecting consumer. These items either contain parts or ingredients that do not work or have a direct harmful or toxic effect on the user. The Attorneys General play a key role in investigating activities that threaten the health and safety of consumers including the distribution and sale of counterfeits, both online and off; the mere fact that a business operates online should not shield it from an investigation into the legality of its business practices.
In its filing with the court, the IACC argues that although Congress has provided broad statutory protections to online service providers, those protections are not absolute. "Our concern, at this stage, is that Attorneys General retain their traditional and well-established authority to investigate whether illegal conduct has taken place," said IACC President, Bob Barchiesi. "Given that no charges have yet been filed, Google's position equates to a claim not of immunity from criminal or civil liability, but from mere investigation that it may have violated the law." Mr. Barchiesi continued, "Such a determination would undoubtedly have a chilling effect on law enforcement's or prosecutors' investigation of potentially illicit activity on the internet, and ultimately expose consumers to greater threats online."
About the IACC:
The IACC (www.iacc.org) is a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization representing the interests of companies concerned with counterfeiting and piracy. The members of the IACC include many of the world's best-known brands across all product sectors. The IACC is committed to working with government and industry partners in the United States and abroad to strengthen trademark and copyright protection, and raise awareness about the harms caused by counterfeiting and piracy.
SOURCE International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition