Google stole sharing idea for Hangouts and YouTube, lawsuit claims

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A New York start-up claims that a video sharing feature in YouTube and Google+  is based on concepts that it showed to Google when the two companies met to discuss collaboration strategies in 2011.

In a lawsuit filed in San Jose, CamUp is accusing the search giant of copyright infringement and trade secret misappropriation over a “watch with your friends” button for videos. The button allegedly directs users to a “Hangouts” page where a user can watch the video with other members who are on Google’s social network, Google+.

According to CamUp, Google VP Marissa Mayer and company engineers approached the start-up during the South by Southwest Festival in Texas in March of 2011. Soon after, the two companies reportedly met in London to discuss ways to integrate a “Watch with your friends on CamUp” button directly into YouTube. CamUp says a Google executive was “extremely enthusiastic” but did not respond to follow-up calls despite an assurance that he would “be in touch up.”

In May of 2011, CamUp says it noticed a dramatic spike in traffic from Mountain View, California — a jump it attributes to Google engineers studying its product. The next month, Google launched “Hangouts” and included a “Watch with friends” button that was allegedly identical to one CamUp had showed it one month before. The lawsuit (embedded below) includes screenshots of both “watch” buttons and a note that Google has since altered the button.

(Update: Google said it has yet to see the lawsuit and declined comment) . The company’s Hangouts feature, which allows users to chat with each other or watch videos together, is one of the most popular features of Google+. It recently announced plans to combine Hangouts and its other messaging tools.

CamUp is seeking damages and an injunction banning Hangouts on YouTube and Google+. In addition to Google, it is suing Google UK’s Head of Business and Markets, Richard Robinson, and two unnamed executives.

CamUP v Google

(Image by Adchariyaphoto via Shutterstock)

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