This Belgian who defies Google – Trends-Tendances sur PC

By

A pioneer of online advertising, Bruno Van Boucq is also one of the rare Belgians to take legal action against Google, which he accuses of infringing a patent filed by his start-up. But the Mountain View firm counter-attacked…

“I don’t know if I am the David of David against Goliath because, at the end of the legend, David wins against Goliath. However, in my case, we absolutely cannot know the real outcome of the case…” C It is with modesty that Bruno Van Boucq apprehends the dispute between his start-up Proxistore and the global internet giant, Google.

“I don’t know if I am the David of David against Goliath because, at the end of the legend, David wins against Goliath. However, in my case, we absolutely cannot know the real outcome of the case…” C It is with modesty that Bruno Van Boucq apprehends the dispute between his start-up Proxistore and the global internet giant, Google. For several years, the young shoot from Walloon Brabant has been opposing the American specialist in online research and advertising. In question? A disagreement on the violation or not, by Google, of a technology patented by Proxistore. Bruno Van Boucq considers that the American firm uses geolocation techniques for Internet users which are part of a patent recognized in 2016 in a series of countries. “In 2018 I noticed that, from my point of view, Google was using technology similar to the one we filed. At that time I wanted to speak with Google. I did not have in mind to go ahead the courts. No one really wants to take on Google.” Bruno Van Boucq therefore contacted the Google teams, first in Belgium, then internationally. “The report is cordial, we are reassured and we are told that we will find a solution”. Proxistore teams are then invited to submit a request online, on a Google platform dedicated to all questions related to a patent. “We are then invited to make a proposal”, recalls Bruno Van Boucq. To achieve this, the start-up decides to surround itself with experts in order to best estimate the amount of the arrangement. Based on the report by Pronovem, an independent expert firm that establishes counterfeiting, the start-up turned to the BDO firm in the United States. His role? Analyze the situation and allow Proxistore to establish a “serious proposal that takes into account our technology and its patent”. The amount? “Several hundred million”, is content to specify the Belgian boss. “But this is where we enter a long soap opera. Started from Belgium, the discussions are transferred to New York, then to Palo Alto, which forces us to call on an American law firm. Our Brussels lawyers are not used to dealing with the United States.” Many firms refuse the file. Afraid to take on Google? Risk of conflict of interest? Proxistore nevertheless manages to approach one of the big five, then realizes that it will have to pre-finance all the procedures itself. “The amounts in the United States are climbing rapidly, confides the founder of the start-up. This is why there are funds whose job it is: to defend the Davids against the Goliaths of this kind of intellectual property business. . As long as the case holds water.” One of these funds agrees to support the process, with the hope of being remunerated via a success fee. “The financing of this kind of file can climb up to 4 million euros in our case, at least if we attack for counterfeiting in Germany where this type of case takes place regularly”, specifies Bruno Van Boucq. But initially, in June 2019, Proxistore is content to request in Belgium a “seizure judgment-description”, granted by a judge. This procedure must allow an expert to group together elements to try to establish whether there is an infringement. At the same time, amicable negotiations with Google are bogged down. The first proposal made by the Belgian start-up is not accepted and the parties are struggling to agree on the rest. “This is where I start to have the impression that Google wants to save time, confides Bruno Van Boucq. Their technology was running and they had no real interest in taking out a license. the intention of reaching an agreement, even if they claimed the opposite. They seemed to have only one obsession: to make things last because, over time, they are always winners…” After Palo Alto , negotiations will thus return to Europe, with the internet giant redirecting the Belgian start-up to a team in Berlin. Another problem: “Our law firm then decides unilaterally not to represent us anymore, and this without giving us any real explanation, plagues Bruno Van Boucq still today. After more than a year of work and the constitution of a file, we have to find a team, put everything back in place, resume discussions. At that moment, I felt the full weight of the party I was facing. It was only recently that I think I understood this what happened: following the non-aggression pact signed between Facebook and Google, quite a few firms have planted their clients who were attacking one or the other. Today, for this reason in particular, discussions between Proxistore and Google are at a standstill. Especially since the young shoot had to face other adventures. In September 2019, no doubt feeling threatened by these procedures, the American firm retaliated and decided to attack Proxistore’s patent in Belgium. A blow for Bruno Van Boucq who, on a daily basis, feels how uncomfortable the situation has become. “Many people around me and in my sector did not want to support me publicly for fear of offending Google, he recalls. I received some encouragement but rarely in public. Others tried rather to discourage me.” Except that the man now feels the soul of a “whistleblower”, at his level. “I believe it is important to show all the problematic points of an actor like Google, specifies the boss of Proxistore. We can also see that cases are multiplying, in fields as different as abuse of a dominant position, anti -competition, privacy…” At the end of 2020, the Brussels company court ruled, at first instance, concerning the validity of Proxistore’s patent, giving reason to the Belgian firm. Google has appealed the decision, which should further drag out the case. But Bruno Van Boucq concludes: “Even if all my attention is devoted to Proxistore, I will fight to defend this patent. I want to defend European innovation. What is the point of innovating and filing patents if we cannot protect?”

.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

You may also like