Stelor Productions, a Darnestown, Md. based children's entertainment company has filed a notice of opposition with the U.S. Commerce Department's Patent and Trademark Office concerning trademark applications made by popular search engine Google. The move is meant to challenge a filing made by Google that relates to children's products as well as serving as a petition to cancel Google's existing registration of its name for e-mail and search engine services.
Googles.com is an educational children's Web site operated by Stelor Productions. The site features cartoon characters named Googles that are from a planet called Goo. The site sells CDs, toys and other merchandise based on the Googles characters.
Google the search engine filed for a trademark with the serial number 76314783 on September 18, 2001 that includes "children's books" and "children's clothing." The Googles filing claims that consumers familiar with their brand will be confused by the use of the mark "Google" on children's products and books, citing the single letter difference between their own Googles characters. The Googles Web site also offers email accounts, which prompted the move to challenge Google's trademark for email related uses.
According to Stelor Productions CEO Steven A. Esrig, "The web is a big enough space for both of us, but not if Google trespasses on our domain for children. Even though Google Inc. is bigger, better capitalized, and more widely known, the company can't continue to pretend we don't exist. We were first in this trademarked space, and Google has no right to seriously damage our brand and our business. That's what trademark law and intellectual property rights are all about."
The damage Esrig refers to is the difficulty the company has had in securing new investors, licensees and entertainment partners because the of fury of media attention surrounding the upcoming Google IPO and its recent filing for trademark status on children's products. "Their mark is confusingly similar to ours," said Esrig. "The sole distinction between the two is that Google Inc. is using the singular version of our registered mark GOOGLES."
The case is likely to eventually end up in court. Google faced a similar suit earlier this year when it went up against adult search engine Booble.com, which used a similar name and logo for its Web site. Booble.com ultimately prevailed due to its claim that it served as a parody of the popular Google search engine.
July 7, 2004
Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.
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