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Court okays Nigerian’s plea to amend $150 million suit against Google, GoDaddy.Com

Upon resumed hearing, Mr Ekpenyong, who appeared with Joel Awoke and Jude Otakpor, informed the court that the suit was for mention.

• April 19, 2024
GOOGLE; GODADDY
GOOGLE; GODADDY

The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court has granted a Nigerian, Chianugo Peter, an application to amend his originating processes filed to seek $150 million in compensation from Google and GoDaddy.com.

Justice Obiora Egwuatu granted the application after lawyer to Google LLC, Oluwaseyi Ogundiran of Aluko & Oyebode Law Firm, did not oppose Peter’s motion filed by his counsel, Emmanuel Ekpenyong of Fred-Young & Evans LP.

Upon resumed hearing, Mr Ekpenyong, who appeared with Joel Awoke and Jude Otakpor, informed the court that the suit was for mention.

The lawyer said on the last adjourned date, the matter was adjourned until today for the hearing of the plaintiff’s application to amend his originating processes.

He informed the court that the defendants had not filed an opposition to his application dated February 7 but filed February 8. He applied to move the application subject to the convenience of the court.

Upon the court’s direction, Mr Ekpenyong moved the application to amend his originating processes, including the writ of summons, statement of claim and witness statement on oath.

The judge, who granted the prayers to amend the processes, refused to grant a deeming order of the amended processes already filed and served on the defendants because it was against the settled principle of law.

The judge then directed the plaintiff to file its amended originating processes within seven days of the order and gave Google seven days to file its amended statement of defence.

The suit was consequently adjourned until June 3 2024, for further mention.

The lawsuit revolves around the alleged shutdown of Mr Peter’s YouTubeAudio.com domain name after eight years of promotional and marketing efforts.

Mr Peter, through his lawyer, named GoDaddy.Com LLC and Google LLC as the first and second defendants in the suit filed on April 14, 2023, with suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/238/2023.

But Google, an American multinational technology company, in its statement of defence dated Nov. 9, 2023, and filed November 10, 2023, by its lawyer, Mark Mordi, urged the court to dismiss Mr Peter’s suit as unmeritorious and unworthy.

In its defence, the company averred that Mr Peter did not own the YouTube trademark, nor did he have a bona fide claim to use or register any mark that incorporates or is similar to the YouTube trademark.

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 second defendant’s rights.

However, in his reply dated February 7 and filed February 8, Peter contended that “though it is common knowledge that Google owns the YouTube trademark, the plaintiff’s YouTubeAudio.com domain and business name are different and distinct from the YouTube trademark.”

According to him, the followers and users of YouTubeAudio.com know that it is different and distinct from YouTube, and it is not calculated to deceive them.

He said the first and second defendants and the relevant regulatory authorities acknowledged that his YouTubeAudio.com domain and business name differ from the YouTube trademark.

He said in 2021, Google also duly approved and registered YouTubeAudio.com on its Google AdSense program with publisher ID pub-4279408488674166 without any caveat or objection that YouTubeAudio.com infringed its YouTube trademark.

He said the second defendant would not have registered the YouTubeAudio.com domain name on its Google AdSense and Google Play Store platforms if it infringed on its YouTube or other trademarks.

GoDaddy.Com LLC had neither been represented in court nor filed any application since the commencement of the case.

(NAN)

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