Monday, January 29, 2007

Google v Stoller

Rebecca Tushnet says Google have sued Leo Stoller the guy that claimed to have a trademark on the word "stealth." That will earn them a few brownie points in the cyber rights community.

"Here's something that will make Google very few new enemies, and perhaps some new friends: As reported by the TTABlog, Google has sued Leo Stoller, the well-known trademark "entrepreneur," for false advertising, RICO violations (the predicate acts being state-law extortion and wire and mail fraud), and unfair competition. The complaint, 222 pages including the exhibits, is here.

I've said a couple of times in this space that there's no provision in trademark law penalizing false claims of trademark ownership, or even false claims to own a federal registration, in contrast to the rule for patents. Google has brought its claims under the Lanham Act's general prohibition of false advertising; not only does it dispute Stoller's claims to own a federal registration to the mark "Google," but its allegations also encompass Stoller's claims to own common-law rights in the mark, representations that he could license the mark, representations that he'd prevailed in numerous court cases, and representations that "99% of [his] opponents opt to settle.""

Stoller also claimed to own the phrase "freedom of expression" which irritated Kimbrew McLeod, who had actually managed to get a trademark on the phrase some years previously in an exercise in demonstrating the otherworldlyness of the US system of intellectual property.

No comments: