Google slams Oz start-up with legal bid

An Australian online start-up called Groggle has received a legal letter from Google's lawyers requesting it cease trading and hand over its domain name groggle.com.au.
Written by Ben Grubb, Contributor

An Australian online start-up called Groggle has received a legal letter from Google's lawyers requesting it cease trading and hand over its domain name groggle.com.au.

Groggle received the legal letter from Google's Australian lawyer Middletons on Thursday last week requesting the company cease trading under the name Groggle Pty Ltd and handover the domain name it had registered.

Google's Australian office declined to comment on the matter this morning.

Groggle was intended to be a location-based liquor price comparison website search service allowing consumers to find the cheapest liquor price in a particular area.

"Essentially, you look for a particular product, you type in your postcode and it directs you to the retailer with the cheapest price near you," Brisbane-based founder Cameron Collie told ZDNet Australia this morning. The site is currently in beta mode and was to launch in the coming months.

Cameron Collie and his business partner Alec Doughty have been working on the project for a number of months and registered "Groggle" with the Australian trademark office IP Australia on 28 September last year.

IP Australia approved the trademark filing on 4 February this year. Since that date there has been a 90-day period of time for opposition of the application, which ends Tuesday next week.

Google has requested the start-up withdraw its trademark application and change its name. The search giant also requested that Groggle transfer its domain name groggle.com.au to Google, provide a written acknowledgement that it infringed on Google's trademark, that it contravened the Trade Practices Act, that it committed the tort of passing off, and that the start-up will not use the word "Groggle" in the future.

Groggle founder Collie said the word "Groggle" was a play on words. In Australia "grog" is slang for alcohol.

"We wanted something kind of funky," Collie said. "We wanted Grogger originally, but we couldn't get that, so Groggle was funny and we didn't ever think it would ever be confused with Google."

Google has given the Australian start-up until 4pm Thursday to address its concerns. If the start-up does not meet Google's "demands" stated in its legal letter then it will lodge its opposition with IP Australia.

"If Groggle does not provide and comply with the above demands within the time specified, our client will lodge a notice of opposition with IP Australia opposing the registration of the mark," the Google legal letter sighted by ZDNet Australia said.

Google also pointed out in its legal letter that it had successfully opposed the registration of the trademark "GOOGLEBAY" in Australia.

The search giant pointed to the dispute resolution process offered by Australian domain name regulator auDA, where Google had ordered two domain name holders to transfer the domains googler.com.au and googlebay.com.au to Google.

Not only would Google lodge its opposition with IP Australia, it said in its legal letter to Groggle, but it would also lodge an injunction with the court.

Groggle founder Collie said it would be "a major inconvenience" to change its domain name. He also mentioned a number of other domains the start-up had registered — around nine — one of which he had to pay $2000 for.

He said he and his partner had spent "tens of thousand of dollars" on the business.

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