Google vs. Groovle

Even Google can’t win them all.  In a recent domain name arbitration decision, Google Inc. v 207 Media, a small Canadian company has prevailed against a challenge by almighty Google Inc.  Google objected to the registration of the domain name GROOVLE.COM, claiming that it was too close to Google’s own famous brand name.  In a domain name arbitration, a complainant must prove 3 things:

(1)   the domain name is identical or confusingly similar to the complainant’s trademark ;
(2)   the person who registered the domain name has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
(3)   the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

In this case, the arbitrator decided that Google failed on the first count. GROOVLE was found to be not confusingly similar to Google’s trade-mark. This follows an earlier decision where Google challenged the domain name FROOGLES.COM and lost (Google, Inc. v. Wolfe, FA 275419 (Nat. Arb. Forum, July 18, 2004)).

The real dispute was not so much the similarity of the names (Google has better things to do than chase every single misspelled variation of its domain name).  It was rather the use by Groovle of Google’s Custom Search Engine program.  This program permits users to embed a Google search box into their own site; Groovle took this one step further and permitted users to essentially customize their own search page, using Google’s engine, but displaying Groovle’s brand.

Calgary 10:00 MST

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