Alleged contract breach: Nigerian seeks $150m damages against Google, GoDaddy.Com

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Chianugo Peter, a Nigerian, has filed a lawsuit against Google and GoDaddy.com seeking $150 million in compensation. The lawsuit alleges that the defendants shut down his YouTube Audio domain name after eight years of promotional and marketing efforts.

Peter, represented by his lawyer Emmanuel Ekpenyong, filed the suit before Justice Obiora Egwuatu of the Federal High Court in Abuja. He argues that he registered the YouTube Audio business name, commenced trademark registration on the logo, and acquired the YouTubeAudio.com domain name in good faith to conduct genuine business and attract users.

The plaintiff seeks a declaration from the court that he is entitled to compensation for the loss of the YouTubeAudio.com brand and goodwill that accrued over eight years of promotional and marketing activities. Additionally, he requests an order directing the defendants to pay him $50 million for the promotional and marketing works conducted on the YouTube Audio business name and domain name during that period.

Peter further seeks an order for the defendants to pay him $100 million for the loss of anticipated profits associated with the brand equity and goodwill of YouTube Audio and the YouTubeAudio.com domain name. He also requests a sum of 50 million naira to enable him to carry out fresh registrations of a new name and secure an alternative domain name for hosting his application. Finally, he seeks an order for the defendants to pay his counsel 10 million naira for the prosecution of the suit.

In his statement of claim, Peter asserts that he is the owner of YouTube Audio, also known as YTAudio, which is a creative mobile application available on platforms like Google Play Store and Apple Store in Nigeria. He states that he acquired the YouTubeAudio.com and YoutubeAudio.ca domain names from GoDaddy in 2015 without any indication that they infringed on the YouTube trademark or any other Google products.

Peter alleges that GoDaddy confirmed the availability of the domain names at the time of acquisition and did not inform him that they were similar to the YouTube trademark. He claims that both GoDaddy and Google encouraged him to use the YouTubeAudio.com domain name for the past eight years, making it improper for them to now claim that it infringes their trademarks or deny him its use.

The plaintiff emphasizes that he duly registered YouTube Audio as a business name with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) in Nigeria and continuously filed tax returns with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS). He argues that the domain was fully established with a management team, business address, and bank accounts, and had undergone extensive promotional and marketing efforts to make it attractive to users.

Peter contends that Google and GoDaddy’s actions were contrary to the assurances they gave him regarding his rights over the YouTube Audio.com domain name. He alleges that they commenced arbitration proceedings against him and subsequently shut down the domain name without compensating him.

The case has been adjourned until October 11 for mention.

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