Monday, 26 March 2007
Sanctions against KinderStart
I just learned that Google has won a dismissal and sanctions in the lawsuit brought by KinderStart. The dismissal order was without leave to amend, meaning that KinderStart's claims are dead. The court also ordered that KinderStart and its attorneys will be sanctioned.
KinderStart asserted a panoply of claims, including violation of the First Amendment, the Sherman antitrust act, unfair competition and unfair business practices under California law, and defamation. KinderStart's complaint specifically alleges that Google manipulates search results to censor political and religious speech and to boost the search results of companies that pay Google or comply with demands that Google makes. It also alleges that Google reduced KinderStart's position in search results and assigned it a PageRank of zero.
The sanctions come under Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 11 authorizes the court to "impose an appropriate sanction upon the attorneys, law firms, or parties that" file any paper without an appropriate factual or legal basis. "A sanction imposed for violation of this rule shall be limited to what is sufficient to deter repetition of such conduct or comparable conduct by others similarly situated."
In this case, the court found that several allegations made by KinderStart and its attorney, Gregory Yu, are "factually baseless and [that] Yu failed to perform an adequate investigation before filing them." The court will fix the amount of the sanction after it receives supplemental papers from Google "identifying the fees associated with its motion for sanctions and with other motion practice related to the sanctionable allegations. The Court will determine the amount of monetary sanctions after receiving Google's submission and Yu's response."