Did Google 'Booble' With Googles?

Rhett Pardon
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — Porn search engine Booble.com still lives on despite Google's attempt to shut it down.

Now, Google Inc. faces its own legal stabbing.

Darnestown, Md.-based Stelor Productions Inc., which owns the rights to plump little creatures from the planet Goo, says that Google.com is expanding into new businesses aimed at children.

And that “unfairly infringes on our trademark rights," says Steven A. Esrig, president of Stelor, which owns Googles.com.

Stelor filed documents Tuesday with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, contending that Google is walking on Googles' turf.

The story is similar to the one Booble faced in January.

Google launched its own challenge to Guywire Inc., claiming that company's Booble porn search engine improperly duplicated Google's logo and web design.

The Mountain View, Calif. search-engine company demanded that Booble's owners close it down and transfer ownership of the Booble web address to Google.

But Booble's owners protested that their site, which is still operating, was a legally operating parody. Guywire also said that its logo was distinctive from Google's because "it features a woman's chest."

Both Google and Googles have co-existed for years.

Stelor took over the Googles site when it acquired the intellectual property rights to the children's characters in 2002.

The free website features songs, cartoons and games tied to the Googles characters, and is aimed mostly at preschoolers.

According to the documents filed with the patent office, the previous owners established the googles.com domain name and started operating the website in July 1997, two months before the search-engine company established its Google website.

Google did not respond to XBiz inquiries by phone or email about any pending litigation with Googles or Boobles, but the company disclosed in its IPO filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that intellectual-property suits are part of doing business on the Internet.

"From time to time, we receive notice letters from patent holders alleging that certain of our products and services infringe their patent rights,” the company wrote. “Some of these have resulted in litigation against us."

As for Googles, Esrig contends that Google "has been a growing annoyance as the Google search engine has become more and more successful and well-known."

The complaints filed by Stelor set in motion a lengthy process that can be compared to a federal civil proceeding. The case may ultimately be decided by the Patent and Trademark Office’s judicial division.