The Tel Aviv District Court has ordered that Google Israel Ltd disclose the internet protocol address of an anonymous internet user.
The plaintiff, Brokertov Ltd, is an Israeli company that provides financial consulting and training services. Brokertov owns the registered trademark BROKER TOV (Hebrew for ‘good broker’ and pun for Boker Tov – Good Morning) Brokertov maintains websites aat domain names ‘brokertov.net’ and ‘brokertov.co.il’. When Brokertov became aware of the existence of a website that provided and advertised financial services under the domain name ‘brokertov.com’, they alleged that the website infringed its trademark and other IP rights and diverted clients from its own website.
Brokertov petitioned the court to order Google Israel and other internet service providers to disclose identifying details of the ownder of the infringing website and email accounts thereof.
The court granted the requested orders and all the respondents except Google Israel agreed to abide by the orders. However, the Court held that although Google Israel was under an obligation of confidentiality towards its users, it could not allow them to infringe third-party IP rights under the cover of anonymity.
The court also ruled that the disclosure of a user’s identification details may be necessary where there is a “real apprehension” that another party’s IP rights are being infringed, even if this is not a criminal offence but merely acivil wrong. A real apprehension is not a “near certainty”, but is more than a “reasonable apprehension” and this is held to exist where there is a prima facie case of infringement.
In this case, the court found that Brokertov had a prima facie basis to sue for both passing off and trademark infringement, therfore it ordered Google Israel to disclose the requested information.
Brokertov Ltd v Google Israel Ltd (Case 250/08, January 7 2009).