The American Chemical Society has fired off a lawsuit against Google Inc., accusing the Web search powerhouse of "trademark infringement and unfair competition" with its Google Scholar search beta.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia, accuses Google of violating the Societys trademarks used in a similar search tool called SciFinder Scholar.
According to the scientific societys complaint, the SciFinder Scholar search tool is used by more than 100,000 scientists, researchers, students and professors nationwide. By launching a similar tool with the same name, the suit alleges that Google is likely to cause "confusion, mistake and deception" in the market.
"Theyve chosen to use a name that is creating confusion in the marketplace. Our product is known colloquially as Scholar and theyve chosen to use the same name. Weve very concerned about losing the goodwill weve developed over the last six years," ACS general counsel Flint Lewis told eWEEK.com.
Google spokesperson Steve Langdon dismissed the ACS complaint. "We are confident in the use of our name Google Scholar," Langdon said. "This lawsuit is without merit."
While Google Scholar offers a free search tool, the SciFinder Scholar product is subscription-based with different tiers of pricing.
However, the ACS is brushing aside talk that the lawsuit is a direct response to a free alternative to its paid service. Lewis said there was "no relevance" to his companys service being fee-based while Google is essentially offering similar functionality for free. "Our concern is only with the use of the name Scholar…We have no choice but to protect our goodwill and reputation," Lewis said.
He said the ACS launched the SciFinder Scholar service in 1998 and it developed a strong following in the academic community.
The society is asking the court for a permanent injunction to block Google from using the "Scholar" name in its products. The lawsuit also seeks monetary damages and costs.