Trademark Troll Claims Ownership Of Google; Google Claims Troll Is Racketeering
from the nice-try dept
Just last week, we had a short update on Leo Stoller, the trademark troll that the NY Times profiled in 2005. He claimed ownership of trademarks on a huge list of generic words and went about threatening lots of companies. He most famously claimed ownership of the word “stealth” and in a clear misunderstanding of the purpose of trademark law proceeded to go after anyone who used it, including Northrop Grumman, makers of the stealth bomber (who eventually paid him $10 — yes, that’s TEN dollars — and abandoned their own trademark attempt). In the post last week, it noted that Stoller had declared bankruptcy and was to have his personal and corporate assets liquidated. He was also prevented from filing any more extension requests to the USPTO for a period of two years after flooding them with a bunch of bogus extension requests. If you thought any of that would slow Stoller down, you would have been wrong.
Someone purporting to be Stoller (and we have no reason to believe it wasn’t him) stopped by our comments to note that we shouldn’t count him out yet, and that: “Every adverse case is up on appeal and it will not be over until the “fat” lady sings!” However, it appears that he now has another “adverse case” to deal with. This time, it’s from Google and they’re charging him with racketeering for trying to extort money out of them while claiming to own the trademark “Google” himself when he clearly did not.
Reading through the lawsuit filing (warning: pdf) is tremendously amusing. Google lists out the long, long history of Mr. Stoller, and details many of the lawsuits he’s lost and bogus trademarks he’s claimed to own. In 2005, similar to what he’s done in the past, apparently, Stoller tried to claim the trademark on Google, sending a letter to the USPTO on letterhead supposedly from an organization called “Google Brand Licensing and Products,” claiming the use of “Google” in commerce since 1981. Apparently this is similar to the way he obtained (or tried to obtain) certain other trademarks as well. At other times, Stoller also simply claimed on his website that you could license “Google” from him, though that was clearly untrue. He then demanded money from Google to make this go away, threatening to destroy the Google trademark by having it taken away as generic. In a letter to the company, he notes that it will cost them at least $150,000 to defend themselves, and they’d be better off just paying him $100,000. The threats get increasingly amusing, as he promises that Google’s stock “won’t be worth $5 a share” after he’s done with them and, later, that he wouldn’t be surprised if “Google goes out of business” by the end of his lawsuit.
Following this, it appears that Stoller did, indeed, file with the court to have Google’s trademark taken away, claiming that it was a generic term, a fact which he then highlighted on his blog — which apparently failed to have the expected impact of knocking Google’s stock down to $5. In the last few weeks, Stoller has taken to posting a variety of posts about that filing on his blog that seem to focus on the salary of Google’s lawyer. However, following these RICO filings against him, Stoller yesterday posted to his blog what appears to be an entire blog post mocking Google’s lawyer, claiming that he filed the RICO charges because his nickname is RICO and saying he has always wanted to visit Porto [sic] Rico. I’m not a betting man, but I would imagine that Stoller’s odds against Google in this case are not particularly good.