Next thing you know, they'll be going after Boggle.
January 29, 2004 12:06 PM   Subscribe

Adult search engine, has received a cease and desist order from Google on the grounds of trademark infringement. Read Google's letter and Booble's response. all links are work safe.
posted by paulrockNJ (22 comments total)
To thwart any confusion......Google's letter and Booble's response are on the same page -- scroll down for the response.
posted by paulrockNJ at 12:08 PM on January 29, 2004

I wodered when that would happen - it's all got a familiar ring to it. Of course I caved and was bought off (happily) with Google schwag, but to each his own. Personally, IANAL, but I think they might have a parody case. It'll be interesting to watch unfold.
posted by kokogiak at 12:15 PM on January 29, 2004

wodered = wondered (oh how I hate typos - especially my own)
posted by kokogiak at 12:16 PM on January 29, 2004

From Google's C&D letter: Your web site is a pornographic web site.

Is a search engine that finds only pornography a "pronographic web site" itself? That's an something for the courts to decide, I imagine. (Even if it's true, I wonder whether it's relevant.)
posted by jpoulos at 12:17 PM on January 29, 2004

In their lawyer's response:

See, e.g., Jordache Enters., Inc. v. Hogg Wyld, Ltd., 828 F.2d 1482, 1486 (10th Cir. 1987) (finding no likelihood of confusion between LARDASHE for oversized jeans, despite its obvious similarity with, and parody of, the well-known JORDACHE mark for jeans)

Bet that was an interesting courtroom debate.
posted by gottabefunky at 12:28 PM on January 29, 2004

Booble isn't porn, just like a store that sells flesh mags isn't a sex shop. Google's got its panties on a little tight.

Maybe Booble was hoping Google would buy them?
posted by fenriq at 12:28 PM on January 29, 2004

Booble had to be anxiously anticipating that letter from google.

Though, it took google a year or so before they snagged

I suppose it is going to be harder and harder for them to "not be evil" as they become a monolithic corporation. sigh.

Perhaps someday there will be a revolt and millions of sites will change their interface/design to parody
posted by shoepal at 12:29 PM on January 29, 2004

Would that Booble did so nice a job as Google...then I would find uses for it...Google still better at fetching those materials that are sexual, porn, erotic etc etc
posted by Postroad at 12:32 PM on January 29, 2004

IANAL, but trademarks are such that if you do not actively pursue and defend them, they have the potential to lose the legal protections originally afforded them. So when the next guy comes around and is actively infringing on the trademark in a fashion that does hurt the original business, they might not be in as strong a position to defend the mark.

The problem is that in more recent history, companies have been claiming infringement for sites that are pretty clear-cut parodies. These cases usually are settled quite quickly as they are against private individuals who have neither the time, money, or resources to fight a corporation (even if they may be in the right). This is a refreshing example of a site fighting for their rights, in a case that is not clear cut (even if it's not the best content example!).
posted by docjohn at 12:49 PM on January 29, 2004

and google goes over to the dark side. it was just a matter of time.
posted by quonsar at 1:08 PM on January 29, 2004

Pray. . . for . . . Haughey.
posted by dgaicun at 1:09 PM on January 29, 2004

"all links are work safe."
No they aren't
posted by Outlawyr at 1:37 PM on January 29, 2004

I'm going to take an unpopular position and posit that Google will not only likely win this case, as it's not a parody...but I think they were right to go after them.

The definition of parody according to is A literary or artistic work that imitates the characteristic style of an author or a work for comic effect or ridicule.

The key words there are comic effect and ridicule. This site is neither funny, nor is it ridiculing google, in any way other than adding boobs to the logo. It's an obvious attempt to use one company's marketing engine and brand name to drive traffic to another company.
posted by dejah420 at 1:38 PM on January 29, 2004

Google will not only likely win this case

I agree with that part, but primarily because the traditional "parody as an exemption to copyright is being increasingly eroded in corporate cases. I rather doubt that legal authorities refer to for their definition of parody.
posted by raygirvan at 1:45 PM on January 29, 2004

Explain how booble is a parody? The guys behind booble had an idea, and not a bad idea at that: make a search engine for porn. They then had a bad idea, rather than thinking up their own name they capitalized on peoples knowledge of google. They could've named it anything and if they did a good job of making a pornographic search engine people would flock to it.

I fail to see how booble is a parody. They're mimicing the style of google but they're not satirizing them. It's not like google won't let you search for porn. In fact is great for searching for porn. (NSFW just in case you're dumb enough to think an example of google being able to find porn would somehow be safe for work)
posted by substrate at 2:43 PM on January 29, 2004

(standard ianal disclaimer, though i did sit through several days of a Kendall Jackson-Turning Leaf infringement trial) i don't think it's parody either. mostly b/c it's not funny.

imo, all they'd have to do is change the logo and it wouldn't be infringement. i don't think "[X]oo[X]le" + search engine = infringement.

on preview: what substrate said.

on 2nd preview: except for that part about Google and porn. i find it pretty useless. there are far better resources.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:52 PM on January 29, 2004

I think they will lose, and I would love to watch the oral arguments (no pun intended) in court, and ultimately I don't care, and ultimately, whatever Booble is forced to become will have more noteriety than it currently does.
posted by ParisParamus at 2:58 PM on January 29, 2004

I notice sploogle is still online...
posted by snarfois at 3:10 PM on January 29, 2004

In fact, entering the terms "porn" and "sex" in the Google search engine return 98,400,000 hits and 269,000,000 hits, respectively, while entering these same terms in the Booble adult search engine return 268 hits and 291 hits, respectively. Therefore, the Google mark - which has a longstanding association with pornographic terms and material - is obviously not tarnished.

Okay, whichever legal eagle came up with that one should be very proud of himself. Deft parry of the "you're pornographers" feint. Bravo.
posted by ook at 8:53 PM on January 29, 2004

Interesting to know what their opinion of cthuugle (mefi discussion here) is. Apart from the content and the making of money, I can't see any difference in the two sites.
"'In his house at R'lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.' Do not disturb Him, or you will doom us all!"
posted by seanyboy at 4:14 AM on January 30, 2004

Hmmm.... Googie...
posted by wendell at 3:54 PM on January 30, 2004

Booble is not a "search engine" in the usual sense of the term. It doesn't claim or aspire to cover a broad range of adult sites around the internet. Every link in the Booble database is a paysite for which the owners of Booble have an affiliate program account.

The thinking behind Booble probably went like this. "I have accounts with a dozen porn affiliate programs. All those programs have 20-100 different sites. How can I draw traffic to my site, get people to click on those links and send them to the paysites. Maybe I could just put up a site with nothing but links to a thousand different paysites. No content, just affiliate links! Hmm, but why would anyone visit such a site? I need a gimmick, something that will generate publicity and free traffic, ideally requiring very little time and effort on my part. . . . How about a Google parody! Blogs will think it's funny and send me free traffic. If I'm lucky, Google will sue me, the media will pick up the story, my traffic will skyrocket, and I'll rake in the bucks for a few weeks while the lawyers hash things out."

And it worked. Pretty clever. Hell, I wish I'd thought of it. But there's no reason for Mefites to go along with the pretense that Booble is a "search engine". Google's letter is correct -- it's just a generic porn links site using the Google clone/parody angle for free publicity and traffic.
posted by Daze at 10:53 PM on January 30, 2004

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