Google Employee Countersues ShoeMoney For Defamation

Over the last few months we’ve been following a lawsuit between well known Internet marketing guru Jeremy Schoemaker and a Google employee named Keyen Farrell. The story so far: Schoemaker is suing Farrell for using his trademark “Shoemoney” in the ad copy for one of Farrell’s sites, which is against Google rules. Farrell has denied any wrongdoing, citing the fact that Google’s automated system should have caught the trademarked term.

Today, Farrell is going one step further by counter-suing Schoemaker, seeking damages for “defamation of Farrell’s reputation and tortious interference.” We’ve embedded the full document below.

Portions of Farrell’s accusations and defense come from articles reported by Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land. In one of his early articles on the case, Sullivan quoted Schoemaker calling Farrell a “corrupt employee”, which has allegedly led to “public scorn and ridicule as a result of Schoemaker’s public comments”.

One of Sullivan’s follow-up posts is also being used to demonstrate Farrell’s innocence. In the post, which is titled “Google Finds No Data Misuse In Shoemoney Trademark Case”, Sullivan wrote that Google blamed the AdWords violation on human error on the part of an employee other than Farrell. Google included the following response (which is also being used as supporting evidence in the defamation case):

The privacy and security of our users and advertisers’ account information is a top priority for us, and our internal policies prohibit any use of non-public advertiser data for personal gain. After a thorough investigation, we found no indication that any employee purposefully tampered with or circumvented any of those policies, processes or procedures, including our trademark filtering process. Due to an unrelated human error, however, some ads with the “Shoemoney” trademark in the text were unintentionally allowed to run. The error has since been corrected, and the ads ran only for a short time.

However, in a post covering today’s news, Sullivan writes that Google has not explictly cleared Farrell, but rather that it has found that none of its policies had been overtly bypassed:

Originally, I had a headline on the article saying that Google had cleared Farrell. They quickly called and asked that it be changed — that they weren’t clearing Farrell in particular but rather asserting that none of their policies had overtly been circumvented or tampered with by any employee. They wanted to stress there was no “data misuse,” which I ended up altering the headline to reflect.

The fact that Google didn’t want to directly clear Farrell is strange — given that apparently none of its policies have been circumvented, why not just clear him entirely? In effect, the company has left some wiggle room for Farrell to have behaved wrongly without abusing his position as a Google employee, though he may not have done so. We’ll continue to follow the cases as they develop.

Schoemaker has provided us with the following response:

I received word that Keyen Farrell filed a lawsuit against me today for a statement I made in connection with the trademark infringement lawsuit I filed in April against him and his father. Farrell’s lawsuit is a transparent litigation tactic that he is using in an attempt to deflect attention from the trademark infringement allegations I previously made against him. There is no merit to Farrell’s lawsuit and I intend to vigorously defend against these claims. I am confident that I will be successful in defending against these baseless allegations. This will not deter me from pursuing legal action against people who infringe upon my intellectual property for their own commercial gain.