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.

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Companies: google

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

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NUKE intellectual property says:

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

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

Money Mike (profile) says:


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)?

OldGeek says:


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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