Google Tells Booble to Cease and Desist

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Google’s lawyers have sent a cease and desist email to Booble.com. They claim trademark violation and dispute Booble’s claims that the site is simply a parody… which under law is protected free speech.

Booble is a porn search engine set up to mimick Google. In an “I dare you to sue us” launch, Booble claimed its a parody site. However, there is a difference between doing a parody and profitting from a blatant attempt of stealing one’s image in the name of parody.

Recent rulings may favor Google in the case since Booble may be trying to profit from the marketability of the parody. In Supreme Court Case Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Moral Majority, Inc., 606 F. Supp. 1526 (C.D. Cal. 1985, Publisher Larry Flynt made disparaging statements about the Reverend Jerry Falwell on one page of Hustler magazine. It was ruled that since Falwell thrust himself into the public eye as a celebrity, he was open to parody.

Other rulings have reflected the losses of the company or person’s estate and potential capital gains of the “parody.” Here’s a case by case rundown on Copyright & Fair Use.

The Search Engine Journal will keep its readers informed of what comes out of this difference between Goog’s and Boob’s.

Here is a copy of the email sent to Booble (originally reported on WebProWorld):

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Via Email to: BOOBLE.COM
RE: Infringement of Google’s trademarks and trade dress: http://www.booble.com (Our ref.: 4.614)
Dear Sir or Madam:

Google is the owner of the well-known trademark and trade name GOOGLE, as well as the domain name GOOGLE.COM. As you are no doubt aware, GOOGLE is the trademark used to identify our award-winning search engine, located at http://www.google.com. Since its inception in 1997, the GOOGLE search engine has become one of the most highly recognized and widely used Internet search engines in the world. Google owns numerous trademark registrations and applications for its GOOGLE mark in countries around the world.

Google has used and actively promoted its GOOGLE mark for a number of years, and has invested considerable time and money establishing exclusive proprietary rights in the GOOGLE mark for online computer services and a wide range of goods. As a result of its efforts, the GOOGLE mark has become a famous mark and a property right of incalculable value.

Google has developed a distinctive layout and design for its Google website. Over the years since its inception, Google has invested considerable time and money establishing exclusive rights in this layout and design. By virtue of these efforts, the layout and design of Google’s website are recognized by visitors as originating with Google. Google aggressively protects and polices its intellectual property rights, including the various trademark and service marks used for its search services and related goods and services, the distinctive trade dress used to present its services to Internet users, and the copyrighted material on its website.

We have recently become aware of your website at http://www.booble.com (the Domain Name). This Domain Name is confusingly similar to the famous GOOGLE trademark. Your web site is a pornographic web site. Your web site improperly duplicates the distinctive and proprietary overall look and feel of Google’s website, including Google’s trade dress and the GOOGLE logo.

Your use of the Domain Name and corresponding web site constitutes trademark infringement and dilution of Google’s trademarks and unfair competition under federal and state laws. Further, your improper duplication of Google’s trade dress on the web site will mislead consumers into believing that some association exists between Google and you, which tarnishes the goodwill and reputation of Google’s services and trademarks. Your registration and use of the Domain Name is in bad faith pursuant to the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (“UDRP”) and is clearly designed to appropriate the goodwill associated with the famous GOOGLE mark in violation of the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (“ACPA”). In addition, you would not be able to demonstrate any rights or legitimate interests in the Domain Name because you are using it to tarnish the GOOGLE mark.

We note that you have given interviews to the press in which you state that you intended booble.com to be a parody. We dispute your assertion that your website is a parody. For a work to constitute a parody, it must use some elements of a prior author”s composition to create a new one that, at least in part, comments on the original author”s works. See Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc., 510 U.S. 569. Your website does not comment on the Google website at all; it merely uses the Google look and feel and a similar name for a search engine.

In view of your infringement of Google’s rights, we must demand that you provide written assurances within 7days that you will immediately:

1. Disable the http://www.booble.com website and discontinue any and all use of the Domain Name;
2. Take steps to transfer the Domain Name to Google;
3. Identify and agree to transfer to Google any other domain names registered by you that contain the GOOGLE or are confusingly similar to the GOOGLE marks;4. Permanently refrain from any use of the term GOOGLE or any variation thereof that is likely to cause confusion or dilution;
5. Immediately and permanently cease and desist from using the Google trade dress.

Sincerely,

The Google Trademark Enforcement Team

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What are your thoughts on the case and is Booble a parody or are they treading on Google’s copyright? Please leave your comments below:

Loren Baker
Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing strategy & development agency.
Loren Baker
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