Are Google and Groggle really similar?

Are Google and Groggle really similar?

Summary: Google, one of the world's largest corporations, is in a trademark dispute with Australian web start-up Groggle. What's the law here? And what are the trademark issues in choosing a name for your new online business?

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TOPICS: Google, Legal
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blog Google, one of the world's largest corporations, is in a trademark dispute with Australian web start-up Groggle. What's the law here? And what are the trademark issues in choosing a name for your new online business?

Google hardly needs an introduction. The latest BrandZ Top 100 released last week reckons Google is the world's most valuable brand, worth $114 billion, up 14 per cent from last year.

Groggle, based in Brisbane, is a "location-driven alcohol price comparison service". It says its name is a play on words around the traditional Aussie slang "grog" for alcohol.

But Google's lawyers say the trademark Groggle is "substantially identical with and deceptively similar to the Google trademarks" and is "likely to mislead and deceive customers into believing that Groggle has a sponsorship, affiliation or approval with Google when this is not the case".

Groggle disagrees. Unless the two companies reach a settlement by tomorrow, this case will end up being heard by IP Australia.

In the Patch Monday podcast this week, Stilgherrian speaks with Cameron Collie, one of Groggle's founders, and Kimberlee Weatherall, who teaches intellectual property law at the University of Queensland.

Plus we have Stilgherrian's usual idiosyncratic look at the week's IT news headlines.

To leave an audio comment for Patch Monday, Skype to stilgherrian, or phone Sydney 02 8011 3733.

Topics: Google, Legal

About

Stilgherrian is a freelance journalist, commentator and podcaster interested in big-picture internet issues, especially security, cybercrime and hoovering up bulldust.

He studied computing science and linguistics before a wide-ranging media career and a stint at running an IT business. He can write iptables firewall rules, set a rabbit trap, clear a jam in an IBM model 026 card punch and mix a mean whiskey sour.

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  • It's a crock. Google has no case. Here in Sydney there is a local company called Kenwood that makes kitchens. There is also a company, now owned by Delonghi, called Kenwood that makes kitchen appliances, amongst other things. There is also a Japanese company called Kenwood that makes sound equipment. Neither has sued the other and both companies have been in business for at least 20 years that I remember. I will add that the logos of these three companies, whilst unique, aren't as far away from each other in look and feel as Google is from Groggle.

    See for yourself:-

    http://kenwood.com.au/
    http://kenwood-australia.com/
    http://kenwoodkitchens.com.au/

    Just one of many examples of why Google's case is frivolous.
    Mel Sommersberg
  • Maybe the makers of the board game Boggle can sue Google. Same level of similarity and I know the board game was around a long time before Google.
    mick.steele@...
  • Google isn't (yet) in the board game business, so Boggle would have nothing to fear. As explained in the podcast, there's three tests for a trademark infringement case to succeed. One of them is that the infringing mark must be being used for the conduct of business in the same area of business.
    stilgherrian