Canada: Google C. Equustek: La Saga Continue

Last Updated: July 19 2018
Article by Imran Ahmad and Katherine Barbacki

L'été dernier, la Cour suprême du Canada1 confirmait la décision de la Cour suprême de la Colombie-Britannique2 d'accorder une injonction interlocutoire mondiale contre Google. Ladite injonction ordonnant à Google de prendre les mesures quant à la désindexation mondiale de tous les résultats obtenus mentionnant les sites Web référant à Datalink Technology Gateways Inc., et Datalink Technologies Gateways LLC (« Datalink ») et ce, malgré que Google ne soit qu'une partie tierce au litige. Plus récemment, Google est retourné devant la Cour suprême de la Colombie-Britannique pour demander que l'injonction soit levée en raison de certains changements de circonstances importants, sans succès. 3

Les faits

Equustek soutient que Datalink, pendant qu'il agissait en temps que distributeur de ses produits, avait commencé à ré-étiqueter un de ceux ci et à le faire passer pour le sien. De plus, Datalink avait, par ailleurs, acquis des renseignements confidentiels et des secrets commerciaux appartenant à Equustek, et les avait utilisés pour concevoir et fabriquer un produit concurrent. Malgré les mesures prises par Equustek auprès des magistrats, Datalink et ses représentants ont fait abstraction de toutes les ordonnances judiciaires antérieures prononcées contre eux, ont quitté la Colombie Britannique et ont continué d'exploiter leur entreprise à partir d'endroits inconnus à l'extérieur du Canada. Dans le but de faire exécuter ces jugements, Equustek a ainsi cherché à localiser Datalink, sans succès. C'est pourquoi, à la lumière de ces circonstances, Google a par conséquent joué un rôle, indirectement déterminant, dans la matérialisation du préjudice. En tout état de cause, une injonction mondiale était, selon la majorité de la Cour suprême du Canada, la seule façon de réduire efficacement le préjudice causé à Equustek. 4

Du Canada aux États-Unis

Le 2 novembre 2017, cette affaire est entrée dans une nouvelle phase déterminante, lorsque la Cour fédérale de Californie (la « Cour ») a accordé à Google une injonction temporaire bloquant l'applicabilité de l'ordonnance de la Cour suprême du Canada en sol américain. Cette dernière a conclu que l'injonction canadienne priverait Google de la protection pour les fournisseurs de services informatiques interactifs contre toute responsabilité découlant du contenu créé par des tiers conférés par l'article 230 de la Communications Decency Act5 (1996). 6 En effet, le Juge Edward J. Davila a déclaré qu'« en forçant les intermédiaires à supprimer les liens vers des documents de tiers, l'ordonnance canadienne mine les objectifs politiques de l'article 230 et menace la liberté d'expression sur Internet, à l'échelle mondiale ».7

En conséquence, la Cour a conclu que le fait de refuser l'exécution de l'injonction canadienne pour protéger l'intérêt public américain était approprié dans la mesure où cette mesure protégerait également la liberté d'expression sur Internet. Bien que l'ordonnance américaine empêche l'exécution de l'ordonnance canadienne contre Google aux États-Unis, il est important de souligner que le tribunal américain ne s'est pas expressément prononcé relativement à la question de la légalité de ladite injonction canadienne, ou encore sur la détermination de la violation des « valeurs fondamentales » américaines émanent de l'application de cette dernière. 8 Malgré cela, la décision américaine a miné l'impact de la décision du plus haut tribunal canadien.

Retour au Canada

Face à son succès devant les tribunaux américains, le 26 avril 2018 dernier Google a demandé à la Cour suprême de la Colombie-Britannique de lever l'injonction globale, sur la base des conclusions du tribunal américain. Tel que mentionné précédemment, l'argument principal de Google en faveur de l'annulation de l'ordonnance de la Colombie-Britannique était fondé sur un changement de circonstances depuis que l'injonction originelle eut été accordée.

En effet, la Cour suprême du Canada avait noté dans sa décision qu'il serait toujours possible pour Google de demander la modification ou la levée de l'injonction « [s]i Google [disposait] d'éléments de preuve démontrant que, pour se conformer à une telle injonction, elle [devrait] contrevenir aux lois d'un autre pays, et notamment porter atteinte à la liberté d'expression, elle [pourrait] toujours demander aux tribunaux de la Colombie Britannique de modifier l'ordonnance interlocutoire en conséquence... » 9.

Le juge Smith de la Cour suprême de la Colombie-Britannique a résumé les conclusions du tribunal américain dans sa décision et a rejeté les arguments de Google, selon lesquels l'ordonnance canadienne violait les droits du Premier amendement de la Constitution américaine ou les « valeurs fondamentales » américaines. 10 Tel que le souligne le juge Smith, pour la Cour suprême de la Colombie-Britannique, cela serait le cas si, par exemple, les défendeurs de Datalink obtenaient une ordonnance d'un tribunal américain exigeant que Google établisse un lien vers leurs sites Web. 11 Or, l'injonction en l'espèce est diamétralement opposée à cette hypothèse. En obiter, le juge Smith souligne en effet qu'une partie dont la capacité d'exercer certains droits est limitée n'est pas la même chose que celle qui est tenue de transgresser la loi. 12 De plus, dans ses motifs, le juge souligne également que Google n'a ni démontré que l'injonction allait à l'encontre des valeurs fondamentales américaines ni qu'un changement de circonstance fondamental nécessitant l'amendement de l'injonction n'ait eu lieu. 13

Points importants à retenir

Il s'agit donc d'une décision importante qui renforce la compétence d'un tribunal canadien de maintenir son propre processus décisionnel. Si la Cour suprême de Colombie-Britannique en avait décidé autrement, cette décision aurait eu un impact international considérable, puisqu'il aurait fourni à Google et à d'autres grandes entreprises américaines de médias sociaux une échappatoire aux ordonnances des tribunaux canadiens et peut-être même, émanent d'autres tribunaux non américains. Cela dit, il est nécessaire de souligner que la décision de la Cour fédérale américaine a matériellement miné non seulement l'impact de la décision originale de la Cour suprême de la Colombie-Britannique mais également celle de la Cour suprême du Canada.

Les auteurs souhaitent remercier Elie Krief, étudiant d'été, pour son assistance dans la préparation de cet article.

Footnotes

1 Google Inc. v. Equustek Solutions Inc., [2017] 1 SCR 824, 2017 SCC 34 (CanLII)

2 Equustek Solutions Inc. v. Jack, 2014 BCSC 1063 (CanLII); Equustek Solutions Inc. v. Google Inc., 2015 BCCA 265

3 Equustek Solutions Inc. v. Jack, 2018 BCSC 610

4 Google Inc. v. Equustek Solutions Inc., [2017] 1 SCR 824, 2017 SCC 34 (CanLII), par 50.

5 47 U.S.C.

6 Fair Hous. Council of San Fernando Valley v. Roomates.com, LLC, 521 F. 3d 1157, 1162 (9th Cir. 2008) (en banc)

7 Notre traduction; Google LLC v. Equustek Solutions Inc., 2017 WL 5000834 (N.D. Cal. Nov. 2, 2017), p. 6

8 Google LLC v. Equustek Solutions Inc., 2017 WL 5000834 (N.D. Cal. Nov. 2, 2017); Google Inc. v. Equustek Solutions Inc., [2017] 1 SCR 824, 2017 SCC 34 (CanLII), par 46

9 Google Inc. v. Equustek Solutions Inc., [2017] 1 SCR 824, 2017 SCC 34 (CanLII), par 46

10 Google Inc. v. Equustek Solutions Inc., [2017] 1 SCR 824, 2017 SCC 34 (CanLII), par 20, 21

11 Equustek Solutions Inc. v. Jack, 2018 BCSC 610, par 19, 20

12 Equustek Solutions Inc. v. Jack, 2018 BCSC 610, par 20

13 Equustek Solutions Inc. v. Jack, 2018 BCSC 610, par 21sq.

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Authors
Imran Ahmad
Katherine Barbacki
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