Mr. Chianugo Peter, a Nigerian, has initiated legal action in the Federal High Court in Abuja, seeking $150 million in damages from Google and GoDaddy
The lawsuit centers around the alleged closure of his YouTube Audio domain name, which he had used for promotional and marketing purposes for eight years.
Represented by his lawyer, Emmanuel Ekpenyong, Peter named GoDaddy.Com LLC and Google LLC as the first and second defendants in the suit filed on April 14, 2023.
The plaintiff seeks a declaration that he registered the YouTube Audio business name, initiated trademark registration for the business name’s logo, and obtained the YouTubeAudio.com domain name in good faith for legitimate business purposes.
He also demands a declaration that GoDaddy and Google are estopped from claiming the domain name infringes their trademarks or denying him its use since they encouraged him to use it for eight years.
Peter is seeking $50 million for his promotional and marketing efforts on the YouTube Audio brand and domain name and an additional $100 million for the loss of anticipated profits associated with the brand equity and goodwill.
According to Peter’s statement, he owned YouTube Audio, also known as YTAudio, accessible through platforms like Google Play Store and Apple Store in Nigeria.
In 2015, he acquired the YouTubeAudio.com and YoutubeAudio.ca domain names from GoDaddy without any indication of infringement on YouTube or Google trademarks.
Peter claims that GoDaddy confirmed the availability of the domain names and did not inform him of any similarity with YouTube or Google trademarks.
He further asserts that from 2015 to April 2022, Google did not dispute the ownership or claim any similarity to the YouTube trademark. He even paid Google to host the YouTube Audio.com application on the Google Play Store without objection.
The plaintiff states that YouTube Audio was duly registered as a business name with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) of Nigeria and consistently filed tax returns with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
However, in April 2022, Google’s solicitor expressed concerns about YouTube Audio’s similarities with YouTube and suggested a settlement involving a name change. Peter agreed to a settlement with compensation, but GoDaddy subsequently shut down his domain, claiming infringement.
Following an arbitration proceeding, GoDaddy transferred the YouTubeAudio.com domain name to Google on December 7, 2022, against previous assurances given to Peter.
The trial judge, Justice Obiora Egwuatu, adjourned the matter until October 11, 2023, for mention.