Google Sued For Using The Term 'Gadgets'; Tiny Company Afraid People Will Think They Support Google

from the uh,-right dept

Ah, more trademark insanity. Eric Goldman points us to the news that Google has been sued, yet again, this time over a trademark infringement claim, with a company called Firefly Digital that makes some sort of content management system that it trademarked as "Website Gadget." As you may know, Google's iGoogle customized page lets you add various "gadgets." In fact, many of you read Techdirt via just such a gadget. But apparently, Firefly is very upset that when you see Google's gadgets, you'll automatically assume that they were built by Firefly -- and thus, the company is suing:
My favorite line in the filing?
Google has thereby induced purchasers and others to believe--contrary to fact--that Firefly has provided, sponsored, authorized, licensed or approved Google's business, goods, and services, or that such business, goods and services are in some way connected with Firefly.
I'd love to see the evidence that any user of iGoogle got confused and somehow thought that the gadgets were provided, sponsored, authorized, licensed or approved by Firefly. Later in the lawsuit, Firefly claims that Google's intention is to "deceive" users into believing there was a connection with Firefly. Somehow, I doubt it.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Pickle Monger (profile), Mar 30th, 2010 @ 1:58pm

    Insanity

    I've been using iGoogle - with its gadgets (including Tecdirt's) - for years. This is the first time I hear the name Firefly Digital. I think they would've had better luck suing the makers of TV show "Firefly" for trademark infringement.

     

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  2.  
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    lookwhaticando, Mar 30th, 2010 @ 2:44pm

    ?

    Firefly who?

     

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  3.  
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    NUKE intellectual property, Mar 30th, 2010 @ 2:59pm

    more reason to end patents and copyrights

    ya mena the show they canceled before season one even got done?

    and if that company is worried about the term gadget better have look at all the people they can sue

    http://www.google.ca/search?q=1st+use+of+word+gadget&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&r ls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a


    all this becomes is ONE GIANT LAW SUIT
    guess the only job in the usa circa 2050
    WILL BE LAWYER

     

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  4.  
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    Ryan, Mar 30th, 2010 @ 3:00pm

    WTF

    Wait, you mean Firefly didn't make iGoogle's gadgets??

    Screw Google, I'm going to Bing.

     

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  5.  
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    Nick Mc, Mar 30th, 2010 @ 3:05pm

    PC Remote Control

    I once had software on my pc that let me watch tv and change channels with a remote. It was 5 or so years ago and cool at the time. The remote was from a company called Firefly. Is this them does anyone know?
    Damned flaky software though.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2010 @ 3:07pm

    Re: ?

    Firefly who?

     

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  7.  
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    Ryan, Mar 30th, 2010 @ 3:08pm

    Re: PC Remote Control

    That sounds pretty useless. People have been watching tv and changing channels with a remote for decades, you don't need software on your pc to do that...

     

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  8.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Mar 30th, 2010 @ 3:11pm

    Re: Re: ?

    Yeah, who the hell is this Firefly?
    Did they rip of their name from the TV show or what?

     

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  9.  
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    Carl (profile), Mar 30th, 2010 @ 3:26pm

    Re: Re: PC Remote Control

    Yea, and there was a social network around 1994 called firefly.com. I used to like it (i was 14), until I realized they had the username and password in the URLs of the pages. It that is the same firefly, I could understand why they are having a hard time understanding technology.

     

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  10.  
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    Grey Ferret, Mar 30th, 2010 @ 3:36pm

    "Firefly who?" we all ask.

    This is the real reason for a lawsuit against Google. No one knows who they are, so what better way to get some attention. Negative publicity is better than no publicity, right?

     

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    gadget smaget, Mar 30th, 2010 @ 3:57pm

    gadget smaget

    wow...lets sue everyone then... Plumtree uses Portal Gadgets.. A portal is a portal is a portal.. kinda like comparing car manufacturers... 'hey we called it a windshield first....' oops I bought the wrong car again.. how did I do that... douhhhh

     

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  12.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Mar 30th, 2010 @ 3:58pm

    Re: Re: ?

    Meanwhile, the other company's name is a verb in the English dictionary. Confusion seems pretty unlikely.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2010 @ 3:58pm

    Re: Re: Re: ?

     

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  14.  
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    DJ, Mar 30th, 2010 @ 3:59pm

    Re: Re: Re: ?

    I was about to say that Google should get in with Joss Whedon and counter-sue Firefly....

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2010 @ 4:02pm

    isn't gadget a little too generic to be a trademark? That's like coke suing pepsi because they have cola in the name.

     

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    Yakko Warner, Mar 30th, 2010 @ 4:04pm

    Is Microsoft next?

    Vista has "Sidebar Gadgets", 7 has "Desktop Gadgets" (both of which are suspiciously like Yahoo Widgets, except a lot harder to shut one down if it misbehaves).

     

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  17.  
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    gary, Mar 30th, 2010 @ 4:05pm

    Never heard of 'em

    I was not confused as I have never heard of the other company.

     

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  18.  
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    Nada Lemming, Mar 30th, 2010 @ 4:14pm

    I want to patent a word!!!

    I have chosen the word AND.
    Can I sue anyone who uses it????

     

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  19.  
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    Money Mike (profile), Mar 30th, 2010 @ 4:16pm

    Re: WTF

    I'm with Ryan here. I feel completely deceived by Google. I've been using the gadgets on iGoogle for years, but I always thought all of them - every single last gadget available - had been built by Firefly. I mean, they basically coined the phrase "gadget" and like I've said for years, people wouldn't even know what a gadget was nowadays if it wasn't for Firefly being so innovative!

    Besides, Google has way too much money anyway. Why shouldn't Firefly get a piece of that for all their hard work (that paperwork can be tough)?

     

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  20.  
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    OldGeek, Mar 30th, 2010 @ 4:17pm

    Really

    From Wikipedia:

    The origins of the word "gadget" trace back to the 19th century. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, there is anecdotal evidence for the use of "gadget" as a placeholder name for a technical item whose precise name one can't remember since the 1850s; with Robert Brown's 1886 book "Spunyarn and Spindrift, A sailor boy’s log of a voyage out and home in a China tea-clipper" containing the earliest known usage in print.

    The etymology of the word is disputed. A widely circulated story holds that the word gadget was "invented" when Gaget, Gauthier & Cie, the company behind the repoussé construction of the Statue of Liberty (1886), made a small-scale version of the monument and named it after their firm; however this contradicts the evidence that the word was already used before in nautical circles, and the fact that it did not become popular, at least in the USA, until after World War I.

    Other sources cite a derivation from the French gâchette which has been applied to various pieces of a firing mechanism, or the French gagée, a small tool or accessory. The first atomic bomb was nicknamed the gadget by the scientists of the Manhattan Project, tested at the Trinity site.

    In the book "Above the Battle" by Vivian Drake, published in 1918 by D. Appleton & Co., of New York and London, being the memoirs of a pilot in the British Royal Flying Corps, there is the following passage: "Our ennui was occasionally relieved by new gadgets -- "gadget" is the Flying Corps slang for invention! Some gadgets were good, some comic and some extraordinary."

    Looks like a whole bunch of prior art to me.

     

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  21.  
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    Morry Inahurry, Mar 30th, 2010 @ 4:27pm

    Company name change

    Firefly => gnat.

     

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  22.  
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    V (profile), Mar 30th, 2010 @ 4:28pm

    gold diggers imo.

     

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  23.  
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    Tam Parody, Mar 30th, 2010 @ 4:29pm

    "I'd love to see the evidence that any user of iGoogle got confused and somehow thought that the gadgets were provided, sponsored, authorized, licensed or approved by Firefly."

    You mean those gadgets weren't provided by Firefly? Wow, this whole time I thought they were.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2010 @ 4:38pm

    "Reverse Streisand effect"

     

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  25.  
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    MooCow, Mar 30th, 2010 @ 4:44pm

    Re: Is Microsoft next?

    Yahoo's Widgets aren't even that original. Yahoo bought that technology out from Konfabulator.

     

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  26.  
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    Jesus, Mar 30th, 2010 @ 5:20pm

    I am the original creator of the Firefly. It is mentioned in the book of gadgetus. (it is an improvement of my first draft of the widget)

    Peace

     

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  27.  
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    mjb5406 (profile), Mar 30th, 2010 @ 5:49pm

    Firefly?

    To put it succinctly, who the f**k is Firefly? I use iGoogle and it gadgets all the time and don't have a clue who Firefly is.

    Does this men that the site Engadget has to worry next?

    And, can I trademark the term "googlet" in case Google changes the name of their plug-ins? :-)

     

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  28.  
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    Ronald J. Willey, Mar 30th, 2010 @ 6:22pm

    Gadget Theft

    They should pay for those gadgets instead of just stealing them.

    Speaking of my own bewilderness

     

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  29.  
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    Mischa, Mar 30th, 2010 @ 6:29pm

    I bet what they are really upset about is having people, who are very familiar with Google's gadgets, think that Google "provided, sponsored, authorized, licensed, or approved" Firefly. But of course, they'd probably be laughed out of court if they tried to sue for that. :-)

     

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  30.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Mar 30th, 2010 @ 7:18pm

    Re: WTF

    "Wait, you mean Firefly didn't make iGoogle's gadgets??"

    To be fair, Google has Waves.

     

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  31.  
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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Mar 30th, 2010 @ 10:08pm

    Inspector Gadget

    Go, go gadget lawsuit!

     

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  32.  
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    Rekrul, Mar 30th, 2010 @ 10:33pm

    Is it too late to patent the concept of a "button" that you click on with a mouse? I'll make billions! There won't be a single software company on the face of the Earth that will be able to avoid paying me!

     

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  33.  
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    Richard (profile), Mar 31st, 2010 @ 2:12am

    They were able to trademark "website gadget" ??? seriously? That's not generic enough for you? I think I might go out and trademark a drink call "Orange drink" and sue coca-cola.

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 31st, 2010 @ 4:33am

    Firefly who?

    Never heard of this company before now. Do you think they are hoping for the Streisand effect?

     

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  35.  
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    Whisk33, Mar 31st, 2010 @ 4:56am

    Re:

    More like deliberate Streisand effect. I'm surprised the company's name was even used in the write up since I think this is just a cheaper national advertisement campaign for them.

     

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  36.  
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    Valkor, Mar 31st, 2010 @ 11:52am

    Re: Inspector Gadget

    FTW!

     

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  37.  
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    Txknight (profile), Apr 7th, 2010 @ 6:02am

    amazing, never heard of firefly, not surprising our trademark systems that let "Website Gadget" be a real trademark, stopped the use of gadgets when yahoo bought the company korn out

     

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  38.  
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    gadgets, Jul 28th, 2011 @ 6:41pm

    Hello sir,
    yup this was long time ago in 2010.... but i think peoples are getting jeleous og the might goole and searching for creating problems.(but i doubt as all the problems were created by small companies rather big ones)
    thanks
    gadgets

     

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