Google Sending Cease And Desist Letters Just For Using Google Logo

from the morons-in-a-hurry dept

Well, we know that Google gets dragged into bogus trademark lawsuits all the time, but that doesn't mean Google should be making bogus trademark claims itself. The latest is that the company's lawyers sent a cease & desist letter to a guy for using the Google logo on an informative site where it was explained how to get your business listed on various search engines. While it is true that you need to protect your trademark or risk losing it, it's ridiculous to think that this is a case where the trademark is being infringed or needs to be "protected." Google's complaint is that this somehow might confuse people into believing the site was associated with Google and lessens Google's ability to make money. If we pull out the ever popular moron in a hurry test, we find that Google's claims don't stand up. No moron in a hurry is going to think the site is officially associated with Google. As for hurting Google's ability to make money, this is a site that will get more people to use Google -- which is Google's exact defense when newspapers flip out about Google linking to them.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
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    andrew McWhirter, Aug 20th, 2007 @ 10:37am

    Whats the big deal

    Whats the big deal? Google sent me an email in the past to remove their logo off my site when I mentioned their Froogle service in an article. What did I do? I removed the logo off my site. The article and links stayed the same, except I was lacking a nice colorful graphic. The logo and graphic is theirs, they can do as they wish with it. Almost all companies work this way, and only allow official affiliates and partners to use their graphics WITH approval. Don't just judge Google for doing this...

    -Drew

     

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      Mike (profile), Aug 20th, 2007 @ 11:04am

      Re: Whats the big deal

      The logo and graphic is theirs, they can do as they wish with it.

      Actually, that's not true. The logo and graphic is theirs, but they don't have the right to force you to stop using it in many cases. Don't fall for the myth that trademark gives you full control over all uses of the mark.

       

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    Joel Coehoorn, Aug 20th, 2007 @ 10:43am

    I don't know; depending on how the logo is used someone might think that it means all the SEO methods provided are Google approved. If the site then goes on to explain some fishy techniques it could impinge on Google's credibility.

     

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      Mike (profile), Aug 20th, 2007 @ 11:04am

      Re:

      I don't know; depending on how the logo is used someone might think that it means all the SEO methods provided are Google approved. If the site then goes on to explain some fishy techniques it could impinge on Google's credibility.

      If you look at the site in question, it's pretty clearly not supported by Google or any of the other search engines.

       

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        Mystified, Aug 20th, 2007 @ 11:26am

        Re: Re:

        "If you look at the site in question, it's pretty clearly not supported by Google or any of the other search engines."

        I haven't looked at the sire yet (shame on me), but remember, what is clear to you, an 'expert' in the area, may not be clear to the average moron with a dial-up modem connection.

        So far, I'm siding with Google on this one - you can mention them, but should not use their graphics without their permission. Google is an internet entity and any use of their logo on an internet page could be deemed as infringing or confusing.

         

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    Wolfger, Aug 20th, 2007 @ 10:55am

    I agree with Andrew

    You're just trying to make something out of nothing here. For starters, I think the "moron" you're using is smarter than the average moron. The site in question is talking about getting businesses listed on search engines, which is Google's bread and butter, and the use of the Google logo in direct correlation with discussion of listing businesses on search engines could easily fool a moron in not-so-much-of-a-hurry into thinking the site was affiliated with Google. As for hurting Google's ability to make money? I can think of a couple ways this applies. If the site is talking about ways to improve your search rank (without paying Google for the prime real estate), then it is directly attacking Google's bottom line. Secondly, if a moron believes the site is associated with Google, and they take a dislike to the site, that dislike will be transferred to Google. I think it's an open and shut case, with Google on the winning side.

     

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    Paul, Aug 20th, 2007 @ 11:23am

    I looked at the site...

    ...and believe whatever lawyers sent out the letter are ridiculous. It doesn't even look like an SEO. It's information on how to get your business listed in stuff such as Google Maps, etc, not how to move your rank up when you get searched for.

    While I'm not sure if they actually have a real case or not, I would have ignored it if I were them. I doubt people would have used this as a "use it or lose it" sort of scenario AND i doubt that Google could do anything by benefit from it.

     

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    John M, Aug 20th, 2007 @ 11:27am

    This should not be a news story. Google sends the C&D letters to a metric crapton of website owners who did not ask for permission. All the website owner has to do is reply asking for permission, and if it is not a violation of the use, you are granted use of the logo. I applaud Google for doing this, as it reminds people to be more considerate of others' property. Just ask for permission! And please, don't be angry if you get busted for not asking first. Why did this website get the spotlight, I couldn't tell you, but this is not some new and unique situation that warrants an article.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2007 @ 12:21pm

     

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    chris, Aug 20th, 2007 @ 12:46pm

    it's petty...pure and simple.

     

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    Hmmm, Aug 20th, 2007 @ 12:57pm

    I think Google was just upset that they were not the first search engine listed on his page. They were 2nd under Yahoo ...

    I suspect that if they were listed in the #1 spot on his page the cease & desists letter would never have been sent :)

     

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    R Cobb, Aug 20th, 2007 @ 1:46pm

    uh, so ask for permission?

    They have every right to require permission, as they state in their notice. What I would like to see is a nicely worded request for permission to them, and their response.

    Perhaps the ONLY issue is using it without permission, and they would gladly give this permission if asked. Lets find out. Setting a precedent of allowing use without permission can cause all sorts of legal problems down the road.

    RC

     

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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased), Aug 20th, 2007 @ 2:16pm

    Link to what?

    I could use a Google graphic and have it link to a site that I made that looks like the Google home page and have it install some spyware or phish for information. Google is protecting its reputation and users. If the site got permission, Google would be sure to check the link to make sure it was legit. I don't see what is wrong with Google's actions.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2007 @ 2:26pm

    test comment

     

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    Erica, Aug 20th, 2007 @ 3:09pm

    More Google: Official Logos

    Google specifically states:

    "Google Logos

    Although we'd like to accommodate all the requests we receive from users who want to add a touch of Google to their sites, we are passionate about protecting the reputation of our brand as an objective and fair provider of search results. We allow use of the Google logo by express permission only. Please review our Permissions Requests page at http://www.google.com/permissions/index.html. If you have received permission to use the Google logo, you may wish to use one of the stickers below. "

    http://www.google.com/intl/en/stickers.html

    and again
    " All of our trademarks, logos, web pages, screen shots and other distinctive features ("Google Brand Features") are protected by applicable trademark, copyright and other intellectual property laws."

    So, if you use the logo without permission.. then you break their TOS for using the logos. Is that not clear enough? I don't quite understand how the question of use is.. If permission is not obtained, then it cannot be used correct?

     

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      Mike (profile), Aug 20th, 2007 @ 4:04pm

      Re: More Google: Official Logos

      So, if you use the logo without permission.. then you break their TOS for using the logos. Is that not clear enough? I don't quite understand how the question of use is.. If permission is not obtained, then it cannot be used correct?

      Just because Google says it's so, does not make it so. Despite what they claim, Google does not have 100% control over the use of their logo. People can use it for a variety of reasons that does not violate Google's trademark. This is a perfect example where it should be legitimate.

      I'm not sure why everyone seems to think that Google has complete control over their logo. They do not.

       

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        common_sense, Aug 20th, 2007 @ 5:18pm

        Re: Re: More Google: Official Logos

        I'm not sure why everyone seems to think that Google has complete control over their logo. They do not

        ...and your legal argument for this claim is what?

         

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          Mike (profile), Aug 20th, 2007 @ 10:42pm

          Re: Re: Re: More Google: Official Logos

          ...and your legal argument for this claim is what?

          Trademark law? The Lanham Act?

          You are allowed to use a trademarked logo if it's not causing confusion over whether or not the brand has sponsored the content.

           

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            common_sense, Aug 21st, 2007 @ 10:51pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: More Google: Official Logos

            sorry mike... you're wrong on this one. trademark law clearly imposes the burden upon the owner of the trademark to act in every situation where it's trademark or logo is used without their permission. failure to do so can later be used as evidence against their ownership or protection of ownership. this places the owner of the trademark in a situation where they must act - from a legal standpoint - in any and every situation of which they become aware.

            not sure where you're getting your info, but it's ignorant of the law on these matters.

             

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              Mike (profile), Aug 22nd, 2007 @ 1:18am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: More Google: Official Logos

              sorry mike... you're wrong on this one. trademark law clearly imposes the burden upon the owner of the trademark to act in every situation where it's trademark or logo is used without their permission. failure to do so can later be used as evidence against their ownership or protection of ownership. this places the owner of the trademark in a situation where they must act - from a legal standpoint - in any and every situation of which they become aware.

              Sorry, common sense, but in this case, it's actually you who are wrong. I pointed you to the Lanham Act. I'm not sure why you then say "not sure where you're getting your info" because I told you where I got it. Go read the Lanham Act.

              As for defending your trademark, it's true that you need to defend it -- not for *every* use without permission, but only those that violate the trademark. A mark used within fair use isn't in violation, and therefore you do not need to defend it.

              For more from lawyers on the topic:

              http://kevin.lexblog.com/2007/08/law-blog-basics/can-you-use-another-companys-logo-on-your -blog-post/
              "As a blogger, you've got the right to use logos under the Fair Use Doctrine. The same protection that comes with using portions of others' content for critique and commentary, whether it be a blurb from the Wall Street Journal or a block quote from another blog, applies equally to using corporate logos."

              http://www.erikjheels.com/2007-07-13-freakonomics-cleavage-and-fair-use.html
              "If you are writing and commenting about a company, product, or famous person, then it's a no-brainer that it's fair use to use the company's logo, product image, or headshot in your blog post."

              http://www.publaw.com/fairusetrade.html
              " The Lanham Act permits a non-owner of a registered trademark to make "fair use" or "nominative use" of a trademark under certain circumstances without obtaining permission from the mark's owner. The fair use and nominative use defenses are to help ensure that trademark owners do not prohibit the use of their marks when they are used for the purpose of description or identification. Fair use or nominative use may be recognized in those instances where a reader of a given work is clearly able to understand that the use of the trademark does not suggest sponsorship or association with the trademark owner's product or services and therefore is not being used in a manner to confuse the reader."

              http://www.hklaw.com/Publications/OtherPublication.asp?ArticleID=2815
              "Courts have long recognized that a company can use a competitor's federally-registered trademark without liability for infringement, if the competitor's use is a "fair use." The Trademark Act of 1946, commonly known as the Lanham Act, expressly permits fair use as an affirmative defense."

              There's plenty more from where that came from...

               

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                commonsense, Aug 24th, 2007 @ 7:01pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: More Google: Official Logo

                once again, you're missing the point... the point is that Google, yes, must defend it's trademark and should even in cases of 'fair use'. you're just arguing the case for the person who used the trademark. of course, Google is looking after it's own interests and the end conclusion will be up to a judge if it goes that far. even if the judge agrees that the Lanham act applies, Google has made the effort to defend it's trademark. case closed, and then they have proof of defense attempt.

                 

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              My name, Jun 9th, 2009 @ 12:00am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: More Google: Official Logos

              Think "common_sense" might need to get some.

              Mike is on the ball with this one, sorry buddy, yet you need to get back to the law books.

               

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        Erica, Aug 20th, 2007 @ 5:55pm

        Re: Re: More Google: Official Logos

        ok, so if the trademark doesn't cover it, the copyright would. In the end, it is up to Google who can and who cannot use their logo.

         

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          Mike (profile), Aug 20th, 2007 @ 10:44pm

          Re: Re: Re: More Google: Official Logos

          ok, so if the trademark doesn't cover it, the copyright would. In the end, it is up to Google who can and who cannot use their logo.

          Erica, sorry, no. Neither copyright nor trademark law gives Google full control over the logo. Both trademark and copyright law allow for fair use, and trademark law (and this is a trademark issue, not a copyright one) has pretty clear standards for fair use, so long as the mark isn't used in a way to suggest endorsement.

          So, in the end, it is NOT up to Google as to who can and cannot use their logo. It is true that they can say in many cases -- but not if it's protected by fair use, which it seems likely in this specific circumstance.

           

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    zabolyx, Aug 20th, 2007 @ 4:32pm

    Oh, Google you morons

    Do they waste time using their servers looking for logo use instead of using that to properly filter crap on Google's MySpace. They just block most usable code from running. Now they are ranting about logo use....

    I'm going to advertise Firefox (I use it anyways), but now I'm going to put info about AdBlock on my page so people realize they don't have to look at all those crappy Google ads on every webpage. I hadn't realized how much crap I was missing using Adblock and FF until I used IE at work to check MySpace.

     

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    Ferrall, Aug 20th, 2007 @ 5:48pm

    Time to Start Hating Google

    Whenever a big company goes after the little guy, you can officially add it to the list of companies that have jumped the shark.

    I'm sickened by this.

     

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    mike allen, Aug 21st, 2007 @ 1:00am

    lawyers

    Havn't google got to recoup the money they must be paying to lawyers

     

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    يوتيوب فيديو, Nov 4th, 2009 @ 4:37am

    Dll3.Cc

     

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    roro90.com, Dec 9th, 2009 @ 12:47am

    roro90

    once again, you're missing the point... the point is that Google, yes, must defend it's trademark and should even in cases of 'fair use'. you're just arguing the case for the person who used the trademark
    -roro90.com--roro90.com- -roro90.com- -roro90.com--roro90.com- -roro90.com- -roro90.com- -roro90.com- -roro90.com--roro90.com- -roro90.com--roro90.com

     

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