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Baldino's Lock & Key Service, Inc. v. Google, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division

January 27, 2015

BALDINO'S LOCK & KEY SERIVCE, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
GOOGLE, INC., et al., Defendants

Page 544

For Baldino's Lock & Key Service, Inc., Plaintiff: Andrew C. Bisulca, LEAD ATTORNEY, Law Office of Andrew Bisulca PC, Woodbridge, VA.

For Google Inc., Defendant: Taylor Thomas Lankford, King & Spalding (DC), Washington, DC.

For Yellowbook Inc., a division of Hibu, Inc., Defendant: Richard Dean Holzheimer, Jr., LEAD ATTORNEY, McGuireWoods LLP (McLean), McLean, VA; Sean F. Murphy, LEAD ATTORNEY, McGuireWoods LLP, McLean, VA; Kevin James Daniel, McGuireWoods LLP (McLean), McLean, VA.

For Ziplocal, LP, Defendant: Dennis John Quinn, LEAD ATTORNEY, Kristine Marie Ellison, Carr Maloney PC (DC), Washington, DC.

Page 545

MEMORANDUM OPINION

CLAUDE M. HILTON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

THIS MATTER comes before the Court on Defendants Google, Inc. (" Google" ), hibu Inc. (formerly Yellowbook Inc. and hereinafter " Yellowbook" ), and Ziplocal, LP's (" Ziplocal," collectively " Defendants" ) Motions to Dismiss the Second Amended Complaint (" Complaint" ).

Google is a corporation organized under the laws of Delaware and based in California. Google operates the world's most prominent Internet search engine, in addition to providing numerous other-mostly Internet-oriented-services. The search engine is available to the public and allows users to access information on third-party websites by creating a search query on Google's website. One component of the search engine is Google Maps, which allows users to view satellite imagery and street maps and compiles information on businesses displayed across the map. On both the standard search engine and Google Maps, users will see paid advertising content related to the user's query. The information displayed on Google, both standard query results and paid advertising material, is created by the third-party content providers and generally not by Google itself.

Yellowbook is a corporation organized under the laws of Delaware and based in the United Kingdom. Ziplocal is a limited partnership organized under the laws of Delaware and based in Utah. Yellowbook and Ziplocal's service and websites are very similar. According to Plaintiff's Complaint, Yellowbook and Ziplocal are " provider[s] of print and online directory advertising." More specifically, their websites provide an online search engine designed to allow users to find businesses and people by querying certain information, such as type of service and geographic area. Yellowbook and Ziplocal allow businesses to advertise on relevant queries.

Plaintiff Baldino's Lock & Key Service, Inc. (" Baldino's" or " Plaintiff" ) is a locksmith and security company, operating in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

Page 546

Over many decades, Baldino's has built, and currently operates, a reputable locksmith service throughout the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area, with the required locksmithing licenses in Maryland and Virginia.[1] With the creation of the Internet, Baldino's saw a drastic decrease in revenue, which it attributes to the ability of unlicensed and illegal locksmiths to advertise of the Internet. According to the Complaint, at one point in 2014, a search of Google's directory produced results for over 1,000 locksmiths in Virginia, when only 325 were listed as licensed. A similar infiltration of unlicensed locksmiths was seen on Google for Maryland locksmiths, as well as on Yellowbook and Ziplocal's directories for both states. Frustrated that the illusive unlicensed locksmiths could not be pursued, Plaintiff turned its attention to the Internet directories that allow the incorrect information on their websites and facilitate the unlicensed locksmiths' advertising. Plaintiff has brought suit against the Defendants, as well as 25 unknown, unlicensed Virginia locksmiths. Count I of Plaintiff's Complaint alleges a civil violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (" RICO" ), 18 U.S.C. § 1964(c); Count II alleges investment of proceeds of racketeering activity in violation of RICO, 18 U.S.C. § 1962(a) and (d); and Count III alleges false advertising in violation of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a)(1)(B).

A complaint will be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). In reviewing a motion to dismiss, the Court will " accept the facts alleged in the [C]omplaint as true and construe them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Coleman v. Maryland Court of Appeals,626 F.3d 187, 190 (4th Cir. 2010). In order to avoid dismissal, the Complaint " need only give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Erickson v. Pardus,551 U.S. 89, 94, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 167 L.Ed.2d 1081 (2007). However, " [f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell A. Corp. v. Twombly,550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). A satisfactory complaint will " state a plausible claim for relief that permits the ...


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