Google's 'Oogle' Hunters Bag Another One

By Ben Charny  |  Posted 2006-05-25 Print this article Print

An Internet search engine once known as Chmoogle was recently forced to change its name after aggressive action by Google's trademark protecting posse.

Earlier this week, Google formally objected to the company's name on the grounds that "Chmoogle" sounded too much like Google. From Google's perspective, the fact that Chmoogle is also a search engine makes it even more likely that people would confuse the two entitites. Chmoogle specializes in locating material about chemistry.

eMolecules, as Chmoogle is now known, claims Google's trying to stop it any other company from creating a brand name that uses the 'oogle' part of the Google name.

Why cave to Google's pressure? CEO Klaus Gubernator said he's not into long legal battles. So the company was renamed just a few hours after learning of Google's objections.

"We would rather advance the cause of chemistry on the Internet that thus far is neglected completely by the dominant Web search engines," he said.

The Chmoogle shenanigans spotlights how Google's not afraid to pull any punches as it battles to protect its well-known trademark.

Google's Rose Hagan, senior trademark counsel, explained during an an interview that Google is continuously monitoring the Internet for sites with names like Boogle, Foogle and Hoogle, etc. It usually will only go after Internet search engine sites with similar-sounding names.

After each potential Google trademark offender surfaces, it first gets a Google letter of warning, she said. That usually does the trick, and the name is soon changed.

In other cases, like Chmoogle, Google with a G will object to the company's trademark application. Rarer still, Google will file a lawsuit, as in the case of Froogles.

"We aren't trying to own the double O," Hagan said. "We take steps to protect the Google brand."

A quick survey found Web destinations for an 'oogle' beginning with nearly every letter of the alphabet. And some, like Boogle, are search engines. That means there's any number of other potential targets out there.

"Google has not officially contacted me on this subject but there are times I wonder if they will," Boogle creator Philip Olson wrote in an e-mail. He suggests that perhaps what's keeping him out of trouble is the fact that the site doesn't contain ads.

Hagan said she was satisfied with Chmoogle's course of action. |

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