Funny how things change when it’s your intellectual property. Which is exactly the situation surrounding Google’s threatened (or now, actual) lawsuit against ‘Doogle-it,’ a relatively tiny South African website largely devoted to jobs. According to early details, Google is now pressing Doogle-it founder Andries Maree Van Der Merwe to change the name of his site, as well as various trademarks and logos, or face the wrath of Google’s legal army.
The cease-and-desists have been mailed, but Van Der Merwe is fighting back and has lawyered up for a very difficult fight. All of which sets the stage for a seriously lopsided David vs. Goliath battle.
All of which also highlights a rather unfortunate contrast in the way Google manages copyright and intellectual property concerns. Like most massive technology companies, Google shrewdly plays by the rules – in the case, the DMCA – but ultimately shafts media companies trying to remove their content. Over on YouTube, that game gets even more tricky and non-sensical: DMCA takedowns are time-consuming games of whack-a-mole, yet Google seems well-adept at proactively scrubbing nudity, pornography, and illegal video content with near-perfect regularity.
Meanwhile, takedown demands are surging, all of which suggests that media companies are putting more effort to control Google’s distribution of their content – fruitlessly or otherwise. And, those that are aren’t attending to their YouTube content – like the Dead Kennedys – wake up to find all of their advertising revenues cannot be claimed retroactively.
From a legal standpoint, ‘Doogle-it’ may have been asking for this one, even though its domain name was readily available. The core legal question is whether Google has a right to litigate against similar-sounding names, even if significant differences exist between those businesses. A knock-off called ‘Boritos’ that tastes exactly like Doritos is a clear trespass, but what if we’re talking about dried banana chips?
Google has declined to discuss the specfics of this case, but is offering the media a boilerplate response.