California lawsuit claims Google is a button thief

A start-up company has an idea that it claims Google engineers analyzed and then pilfered. CamUp filed a trade secret misappropriation and copyright infringement lawsuit in San Jose against Google for allegedly swiping a button.

CamUp’s trade secret dispute says Google executives were anxious to learn about the start-up’s video sharing feature. The button allows multiple users to watch videos at the same time, a button now allegedly incorporated on Google+ and YouTube.

Officials at CamUp say Google was enthralled by the button at last year’s South by Southwest Festival. Representatives from both companies got together in the U.K. soon after the March event to discuss adding the feature to Google-owned YouTube.

Apparently, Google reps were extremely enthusiastic during the London meetings with CamUp executives. The start-up said Google promised to stay in touch, but never did.

According to the lawsuit, CamUp noticed its website was getting an inordinate amount of traffic from Google’s California location in May 2011, a sign that engineers might have been scoping out the video sharing feature.

One month later, Google introduced Google+ Hangouts with a button for user video sharing that CamUp claims was identical to its own. CamUp included screen shots in its intellectual property suit demonstrating that Google changed the popular button feature over time.

The suit asks the court to award damages and ban Hangouts on Google+ and YouTube. Meanwhile, Google is making plans to mix Hangouts with some of its other messaging features.

A small company may risk its entire future with an expensive, lengthy intellectual property lawsuit against a Goliath like Google. At the same time, the majority of the start-up’s worth could center around the video sharing button, a property worth protecting to stay solvent.

Source: Gigaom, “Google stole sharing idea for Hangouts and YouTube, lawsuit claims,” Jeff John Roberts, July 2, 2012