Be In, a company that created the video sharing service CamUp, is accusing Google of stealing trade secrets and violating its copyrights when it added a “Watch with Friends” video sharing feature to Google+. CamUp is a New York-based online service/community that allows users to share multimedia content via connected webcams.
GigaOm has posted a copy of the lawsuit, which claims Be In has suffered losses in excess of $75,000 and “continues to suffer irreparable harm.” The suit asks the court to shut down the Hangouts feature on Google+, to make Google remove the Hangouts button on YouTube video pages and for monetary damages.
According to the lawsuit, Marissa Mayer and other Google representatives visited Be In’s booth at the South By Southwest festival in March 2011, where CamUp was launched. After that, Be In met with Richard Robinson (a Google UK executive) in London in May 2011 “to discuss the possibility of a business collaboration between Google and Be In.”
After confidentiality agreements were signed, Be In says it gave Google a demo of CamUp and suggested that Google put a “Watch with your friends” button on all YouTube videos. Such a button would let viewers launch a CamUp session directly from YouTube. Be In says that Robinson asked for copies of Be In’s business and marketing strategy documents related to CamUp, and the company provided those as requested.
The lawsuit also says that, after the meeting, the CamUp website saw “a dramatic spike in user traffic … in particular from Mountain View, California, where Google is headquartered. Many of these visitors stayed on the site longer than the typical user.” The suit says visits from Mountain View averaged about 40 minutes, compared to the typical user that spends between one and four minutes on the site.
Google+ launched in June 2011 and allowed users to watch YouTube videos with friends via the Hangouts feature. Then, in August 2011, Google added a “Watch with your friends” link to all YouTube video pages that starts a Google+ Hangout.
A Google spokesperson tells Marketing Land that the company can’t comment on the lawsuit because it hasn’t seen the complaint, and hasn’t yet been served.
The lawsuit was filed June 28th in US District Court in San Jose. It names Google, Robinson, and possibly up to three more unnamed Google executives as defendants.