Be In’s California trade secrets case against Google fizzles

New Los Angeles companies have multiple hurdles to overcome before they turn a profit. Limited financial resources deprive companies of power and leave little room for mistakes. Technology start-ups are especially vulnerable, since some competitors are enormous companies with seemingly-bottomless pockets.

A California case against Google, claiming the tech king swiped trade secrets for Google Plus Hangouts, was dealt a severe blow. Be In, the company that invented a video chat feature called CamUp, argued Google introduced a nearly “identical” feature on Google Plus mere months after the companies met to talk about a collaborative effort.

The judge shot down several of Be In’s claims, although kept the door open for future litigation.

Be In said Google didn’t tell the tech startup it was planning to launch Hangouts with a CamUp-like feature. The smaller company alleged it noticed a high volume of CamUp website traffic from Mountain View, Google’s home base, shortly after the meeting and just before Hangouts appeared.

The court felt Be In’s arguments lacked substance. The judge chided Be In for failing to properly support the trade secret misappropriation complaint. Be In apparently did not specify how trade secrets were wrongly acquired or used by Google.

The contract breach claim was also shot down for the lack of a cause of action. Be In had argued the Google employees’ intense CamUp website search violated the site’s terms of service. The assertion that a “browsewrap agreement” was the same as an implied contract was dismissed.

Google attorneys earlier accused Be In of failure to have a valid copyright for CamUp. The technology leader also alleged Be In couldn’t claim trade secrets were stolen for a product that was never introduced to the public.

Intellectual property protection for a fledgling business may be lean, but it can be smart. Advisers help companies learn how to avoid and pick worthwhile court fights.

Source:, “Google Ducks Claims Over Cam Chat Theft” William Dotinga, Oct. 10, 2013