Lawsuits are being thrown around the tech sector like they’re free candy these days. It’s hard to actually think that any of these lawsuits hold merit since most of them equate to a nerdy slap fight over which robots were superior – Transformers or Gobots. A recent lawsuit brought against Google by tech startup CamUp is different – it seems legitimate.
CamUp is a service that’s very much like Google+ Hangouts. It allows multiple people to join the same video chat room while watching great video content from across the Web. Gigaom reports that CamUp accused Google of stealing their idea when implementing the watch with friends feature on YouTube and Google+.
So how would Google know about CamUp’s software? The startup claims that Google approached them during SXSW 2011 and invited them to London to discuss implementing a CamUp button on YouTube. The meetings didn’t go anywhere despite Google reportedly telling CamUp that they would be in touch.
A few months later, the “Watch with friends” button appeared on YouTube. CamUp claims that Google didn’t only steal their idea, but the actual wording they used as well. While you can’t really claim a copyright or theft on the words “Watch with friends,” it does give their case a bit more merit.
CamUp, for their part, is seeking an injunction against Hangouts on both YouTube and Google+. That injunction may be a little hard as Google and CamUp were both not the first to come up with the party video chat that Hangouts popularized. Now if they just got an injunction against Hangouts on YouTube, that would be understandable.
CamUp is also suing Google UK’s Head of Business and Markets, Richard Robinson and two other executives. What’s interesting about this case is that it could really go through unlike the rest of the copyright or patent trolls that you see. The case is similar to last week when Facebook killed the recently introduced Find Friends Nearby feature after accusations came out that the company stole the idea from a startup called Friendthem.
It’s generally accepted that large tech companies hire talent from startups or buy them out outright, but ideas have also been stolen before. If CamUp’s stories about their meetings with Google check out, it could be quite an embarrassment for the tech giant. Does Google really need to be stealing ideas to help fortify their own social media presence? In Google’s defense, the button that used to say “Watch with friends” has now been changed to a big red Hangout button.