It appears that earlier this month, Google presented the owners of soon-to-be-launched Australian liquor price comparison website, Groggle.com.au, with a cease and desist letter demanding it stop using the Groggle brand.
According to the letter, sighted by Delimiter, Google is alleging that “The mark is is substantially identical with and deceptively familiar to the Google trademarks which are extremely well known in Australia.” The search giant is represented by law firm Middletons.
Groggle Pty Ltd is a startup based in Brisbane founded by Cameron Collie and Alec Doughty and is planning to offer a location-driven alcohol price comparison service online. Currently in beta, the Groggle project is over two years in the making and the founders had hoped to launch in a few months, with a look at launching a similar website in the US within the year.
Google’s letter alleged the Groggle name was “likely to mislead and deceive consumers into believing that Groggle has a sponsorship, affiliation or approval with Google, when this is not the case”.
Collie said in response to the C&D letter: “We are a legitimate business that is just trying to launch a startup and now we are facing the wrath of Google’s lawyers because Google thinks it owns any word that ends in ‘gle’ and cannot see that our domain is a play on the word ‘Grog’ and has nothing to do with their name.”
Collie also mention that the URL “Groggle.com” is not a typo of Google.com and could not be considered for typo-squatting, a practise of URL hijacking when surfers type an Internet address in the address bar and are then taken to another website not of their choosing.
The directors of Groggle Pty Ltd had until the 14th April to meet Google’s demands as stated in the C&D, including withdrawal of the trademark application and transfer of all domain names to Google. Groggle Pty Ltd has eight different variations of Groggle domains registered.
The C&D is riddled with mistakes and refers to “Groggle” as “Groogle”, such as “change its company name to a name that does not include the word “GROOGLE” or “GOOGLE” and provide a written acknowledgement that Groogle has infringed upon the Google trademarks.
A follow up letter was sent to Groggle Pty Ltd on the 20th April notifying Collie and Doughty that they have until 4pm on Thursday 29 April to comply with the C&D.
The way the website operates is when consumers search for their poison of choice, for example “Boag’s Classic Blonde” on the Groggle site and enter their postcode. The results displays the retailer with the cheapest price for the product, within the consumers district.
Retailers have to register with the website in order to be included in the results, they can then update prices and products as needed.
Collie and Doughty had registered Groggle.com using Google Apps Premier Edition and paid Google the annual fee of $50 per user account, totalling $100 for 2 user accounts.
Google didn’t have a response at the time of writing this article.
Image credit: Google