Wednesday, August 15, 2007
The Lawyers' Manual on Professional Conduct reports an interesting decision from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in a case involving alleged trademark infringement and misappropriation of trade secrets. A law firm representing the defendants searched the Internet for information about the plaintiff. The firm went to the plaintiffs web page and, using a program called the Wayback Machine, looked at an earlier version of the page. The firm then printed copies of the pages that were used to their client's benefit in the litigation.
The plaintiffs sued the law firm on a theory of improper hacking. The court held that the use of the program to view expired web pages and review of the achived pages did not create tort or other liability. The fact that a web page malfunction allowed the firm to see materials that the owner of the page had taken steps to block from public access was immaterial, as the firm had not stolen passwords or engaged in other misconduct to view the pages at issue.
The title of this post will only make sense to people old enough to remember the classic Rocky & Bullwinkle Show. (Mike Frisch)