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.

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Comments on “Trademark Troll Claims Ownership Of Google; Google Claims Troll Is Racketeering”

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Hyrulio says:

Re: Re: Re: Bar none...

Dizzyness is caused my the fluid in your ear (which act’s like an organic spirit level) becoming unlevel, and sending the message to your brain that you are spinning/moving in some way, and your other senses telling your brain that you arn’t doing that, the mixed messages confuse your brain into the state of “dizzyness”

Also, that guy’s a moron! $150,000 to google is like one of us telling a guy at a shop to keep the penny change from a £99.99 purchase!!

misanthropic humanist says:

Antibodies need germs

I’ve made the argument before that people like Stoller are good for justice in the long run. As Spike Milligan used to say “It takes a crank to start the engine”. He’s a comedian and a troublemaker. I might even have a kind of weird respect for him if he wasn’t so blatently in it for personal financial gain.

Face it, the legal system is broken. If people like Stoller have the time, audacity and persistence to nip at its heels then maybe it will begin to correct itself.

How are his absurd assertions any more ridiculous than Amazons “one click” patent? The difference is that Amazon are a massive corporation and Mr Stoller is a lone fruitcake, their claims are equally barking mad. I just wish he would direct his efforts at the patent system by, say, taking out patents on the increment operator or do-while loops. Hell, if this troll was truly intelligent he could be a formidable force for good changes.

Unfortunately, none of his claims seem to have any basis in reality whatsoever. He doesn’t even seem to comprehend the laws he could take advantage of. So I guess he’s just a crazy wingnut rather than an “activist troll”.

Sanguine Dream says:

Re: Antibodies need germs

I would agree if I thought his nipping at the heels of the system would do any good. Unlike those big businesses Mr. Stoller can’t give the judge presiding over the case an island vacation as a “token of appreciation”.

Now if an activist troll that had some money and, more importantly, brains then yes he could do a lot of good.

VT says:

Re: Antibodies need germs

The difference between this troll and Amazon is that ‘One Click’ is a valid innovation (I have seen no evidence that they did not implement it first), even if it’s the obvious (and therefor should not be patentable) end result of making purchasing as quick as possible, in theory that is a benefit to Amazon and/or Amazon’s customers. The troll on the other hand is just committing fraud on the USPTO, and then extorting his targets, that provides not benefit to any one that Trademark law is meant to benefit.

misanthropic humanist says:

Re: Re: Antibodies need germs

Here’s the list of candidates for prior art on the Amazon “one click” VT.

If Amazon had “invented” anything I would agree with your logic. However they didn’t, and I don’t. My comparison of the troll and Amazon stands. They are equally repugnant and damaging to commerce.

theMouse says:

Re: Re: Antibodies need germs

“one click” as a valid innovation is just plain stupid.

I have been programming for years. I don’t know how many clients have asked me cant we just do that in “one click”

Isn’t the little x on the top right of your application window.
“one click” to shutting the application down?

doesn’t “one click” on your dvd player turn it off and on?

I mean you can kinda make an argument for “one click” as a slogan. But really you should loose.

this stuff is just out of hand, and so are the companies that sue everything/and everybody.

I mean the fact that you have to defend your right to keep something is stupid, just floods the courts with lawsuits. Which is already stuffed to overflowing.

now me? im just waiting for my patient on the term “start” meaing launching an application or a process…

misanthropic humanist says:

Re: Racketeering...

How is his threats to Google any different than the RIAA threats to everyone that they sue?

If you mean morally, then they’re not Trizz, that’s the point. If a little troll goes up against a giant and loses (which is what we want) then it establishes a precedent that civil law must observe, and so stay logically consistent.

Many of the bad laws that exist today are only there because nobody has the balls to challenge them. One way to challenge a law is to advocate for the position with which you disagree and lose.

Jason Bateman says:

Google Gear

Does anyone remember “Google Gear”? They made plenty of “Made in China” types of products that you could buy for fairly cheap or for only the cost of delivery. Clocks, pens, note books, paper weights, bags..etc. Basically, business-type novelty items with the “google gear” logo plastered on each.

“Google Gear” is now known as “Zip Zoom Fly”.

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