Google fights for its oogle

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Google fights for its oogle

Δημοσίευση από KGP » 20 Απρ 2005 01:57

Google fights for its oogle
BY MARK HARRINGTON
STAFF WRITER
Posted April 14 2005

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/business/lo ... 5661.story



Who oogled first?

A David-vs.-Goliath saga pitting a Long Island entrepreneur against Internet giant Google Inc. may hinge on just that, according to papers filed this week in federal court.

The suit filed by Google in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn takes issue with disabled Holtsville businessman Richard Wolfe's Internet shopping site, Froogles.com, which he said he registered in December 2000. The site has links from 700 online stores, which pay Wolfe a commission on sales.

Two years later, Mountain View, Calif.-based Google launched a comparison-shopping site of its own, called Froogle.com. After Google applied to register the name with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office, Wolfe filed an objection, arguing the Froogle.com name infringed on one he'd been using for two years.

That's when the legal battle began to escalate.

Last year, while the trademark dispute was still pending, Google took its claim before an arbitration panel of the Internet domain-name referee known as ICANN. The panel ruled in Wolfe's favor, noting the four-year lag between his launch of Froogles.com and Google filing its complaint.

This week's move to federal court is an escalation of the battle that could strike Wolfe's lower-budget operation hard. Experts say fighting federal trademark cases can rack up hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees.

"Personally, I find it ironic that a company whose motto is 'do no evil' would put so much effort into trying to muscle me out of my business," Wolfe wrote in an e-mail Thursday.

Google spokesman Steve Langdon said federal court was the proper venue for deciding issues of "use and registration" of the trademark "in a single proceeding."

He said, "Protecting the Google brand is a top priority for us," and claimed Froogles.com and its services were "likely to cause confusion or diminish the value" of Google's brand.

Wolfe, 41, a former carpenter who his lawyer said is partly disabled from two work accidents, created the Web site as a primary business from his home. He wouldn't disclose his annual sales.

The lawyer, Stephen Humphrey, based in Washington, D.C., said Google in May 2004 offered Wolfe a deal: drop the objection to the trademark application and it would not object to his operating the Froogles domain name. Wolfe rejected the deal because he didn't want to give up his rights to the trademark.

Google's complaint alleges Wolfe didn't get his site up and running until July 2002, and makes the over-arching claim that Froogles infringes on Google, a now widely known domain name launched in 1997.

In the suit, Google maintains that it is the "senior user of marks that incorporate the formative " -- OOGLE" for Internet search services."

That's news to the principal of a company that owns the domain name oogle.com, who yesterday said he had "not heard a peep" from Google.

An expert suggested turning the dispute to the broader claim of diluting the Google name, not just Froogle, may work in Google's favor.

"Even though Wolfe may have had Froogles first, it's not prior to Google," said Gerald T. Bodner, an intellectual property expert at the Melville law firm Bodner & O'Rourke LLP. Well-known names like Google take ownership of "families" of names, even those they haven't registered.

In Wolfe's favor, Bodner said, is that Wolfe was using Froogles for several years "and Google hadn't done anything sooner to stop him."

Humphrey said he believes two factors are at play in Google's latest action. "They appear to be trying to avoid a decision in the trademark office because they are fearful of a decision," he said. "And I think they are trying to put pressure on Mr. Wolfe to put him out of business."
*Στην Ελλάδα δεν χρειάζεται να σκέφτεσαι...χάνεις πολύτιμο χρόνο!
*"The power of accurate observation is frequently called cynicism by those who don't have it." -George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)
*The purpose of argument should not be victory, but progress.

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