BEIJING: A local court in the city will hear a case on Thursday in which an online shoe-seller is suing Google for damaging its reputation.
Beijing Letao Culture Development Co Ltd, which runs letao.com, accuses Google of unfair competition and violating advertisement laws, through ads on google.cn and google.com.
"We will stick up for our legal rights and fight the legal battle to the end," Letao CEO Bi Sheng said.
In early May, a Letao employee searched the name of the company on google.cn, and the second result showed: "If you want to buy sneakers, OKBuy is better than Letao."
Letao claims the Beijing company OKBuy maliciously tarnished its reputation by placing such an online ad link.
Letao then made several phone calls to Google.cn and asked it to remove the advertisement, but without success, the company said.
The advertisement was not removed until Google received summons in June, after Letao lodged an appeal with the Beijing Haidian District People's Court on May 21, the company said.
"Google acted illegally by using the Letao brand as a keyword to trigger ads of other companies on its website," Letao's lawyer Hua Jianming told reporters on Tuesday.
"The ads telling customers that its competitor is better than Letao, leads potential Letao buyers to turn to its competitor. It has tarnished Letao's reputation and harmed its interests," Hua said.
The lawyer said google.cn was currently operated by three companies in China, namely, the technology supplier Google Information Technology (China) Co Ltd, the domain holder Beijing Feixiangren Information Technology Co Ltd, and the ICP (internet content provider) license holder Beijing Guxiang Information Technology Co Ltd.
Letao filed its lawsuit against all three companies as well as its competitor who bought the ad, Hua said.
Marsha Wang, spokesperson from Google China, refused to comment on the case when contacted by China Daily on Tuesday afternoon.
Google's attorney Yang Anjin said he would make no comment until the conclusion of the trial.
(China Daily 07/14/2010 page4)