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Google Bullies Blogger to Surrender ""

Google-is-evil.jpgA friend of mine, Ali Akbar (@aliakbar), has made me aware of an interesting development going on with the domain he bought, (note the “s”). When he bought it, he approached me asking if I would be a blogger for the site, with intent to blog about Google App Engine news and announcements on the domain. He seemed quite excited about it, and, as a fan of Google App Engine, saw this as the perfect domain to write under since Google didn’t seem to be using it.

On Friday, without even time to set up the blog he was intending to create, Ali received the following very generic letter from Google (which he shared with me), asking him, in a very bullied fashion, without any offer to even make it right, to surrender the domain or face legal consequences:

Dear Sir/Madam:

Google is the owner of the well-known trademark and trade name GOOGLE, as well as the domain name GOOGLE.COM. As you are no doubt aware, GOOGLE is the trademark used to identify our award-winning search engine, located at Since its inception in 1997, the GOOGLE search engine has become one of the most highly recognized and widely used Internet search engines in the world. Google owns numerous trademark registrations and applications for its GOOGLE mark in countries around the world.

Google has used and actively promoted its GOOGLE mark for a number of years, and has invested considerable time and money establishing exclusive proprietary rights in the GOOGLE mark for a wide range of goods and services. As a result of its efforts, the GOOGLE mark has become a famous mark and a property right of incalculable value.

You have registered, without Google’s permission or authorization, the domain name (the ‘Domain Name’). The Domain Name is either confusingly similar to or incorporates the famous GOOGLE mark in its entirety, and, by its very composition, suggests Google’s sponsorship or endorsement of your website and correspondingly, your activities.

Your use of the Domain Name constitutes trademark infringement and dilution of Google’s trademark rights and unfair competition. Your use of the Domain Name is diluting use because it weakens the ability of the GOOGLE mark and domain name to identify a single source, namely Google. Further, your registration and use of the Domain Name misleads consumers into believing that some association exists between Google and you, which tarnishes the goodwill and reputation of Google’s services and trademarks. Moreover, your registration and use of the Domain Name is also actionable under the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (‘UDRP’). Under similar circumstances, Google has prevailed in numerous UDRP actions. These decisions are located online at

In view of your infringement of our rights, we must demand that you provide written assurances within 7 days that you will:

1. Immediately discontinue any and all use of the Domain Name;
2. Take immediate steps to transfer the Domain Name to Google;
3. Identify and agree to transfer to Google any other domain names registered by you that contain GOOGLE or are confusingly similar to the GOOGLE mark;
4. Immediately and permanently refrain from any use of the term GOOGLE or any variation thereof that is likely to cause confusion or dilution.

The Google Trademark Team

What???!! “You have registered, without Google’s permission or authorization, the domain name (the ‘Domain Name’).” So wait – now I have to get Google’s permission before I get any name that even resembles the Google trademark?

I am astounded at the bullyish nature of this letter, and to assume that anyone that buys any name even resembling the Google trademark to be a violation against their trademark name. Google clearly hasn’t been very good at defending this in the past – just searching with their own search engine, I’m finding tons of examples of sites using the Google name in their own domain name (yes, I “Google’d” it):

The list just gets started from there…

Now, let me preface this with the fact that I am not a Lawyer, but I did learn this in Law class in college. The “Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy” which Google references can be found here, and in the document, it states:

c. How to Demonstrate Your Rights to and Legitimate Interests in the Domain Name in Responding to a Complaint. When you receive a complaint, you should refer to Paragraph 5 of the Rules of Procedure in determining how your response should be prepared. Any of the following circumstances, in particular but without limitation, if found by the Panel to be proved based on its evaluation of all evidence presented, shall demonstrate your rights or legitimate interests to the domain name for purposes of Paragraph 4(a)(ii):

  (i) before any notice to you of the dispute, your use of, or demonstrable preparations to use, the domain name or a name corresponding to the domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services; or

  (ii) you (as an individual, business, or other organization) have been commonly known by the domain name, even if you have acquired no trademark or service mark rights; or

  (iii) you are making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the trademark or service mark at issue.

Based on Ali’s approaches to me, there was no intention for commercial gain, nor to tarnish the trademark or service mark at issue. I also have e-mail to prove his demonstrable preparations to use the domain in connection with a bona fide offering. Let me also add that my intention to blog for him was simply in my own support of the Google App Engine. I personally had nothing huge to gain from it other than possibly a little exposure from what could possibly be a good blog.

Let me also add that Trademark issue is a very different issue than the Copyright issue I mentioned before with the Mormon Church and Wikileaks. That issue was about Wikileaks knowingly stealing the content owned by the Mormon Church and using it for unintended purposes. This issue is simply about using the Google domain to further promote Google and its properties. Ali had intent to do such, and with my limited knowledge he should have every right to do so.

What if Facebook were to go after my other blog, FacebookAdvice, or even the book I co-wrote, “I’m on Facebook — Now What???“? What about my friend Nick O’Neill’s AllFacebook, or my other friend, Justin Smith’s InsideFacebook. What about my other blog, OpensocialNow? Does this mean I’m the next target to be bullied by Google?

Of course, isn’t my domain, and I don’t know what would make Ali feel better, but my suggestion to Google is to apologize to Ali for such a rude and inappropriate letter to what may be one of their biggest fans, and make right with him. How about, instead of threatening to take it away from him, offering him at least some swag and a little money for the domain? Come on Google – let’s not be evil here. I know you’re better than that.

As for Ali, last I heard he is not backing down. It’s a David vs. Goliath battle, but let’s hope Google can be a little better than Goliath in this case and just back down a little.

What do you think? Am I wrong on this issue? Is this just the same as the copyright issue I mentioned earlier? I’m very interested to hear your thoughts – this seems very unfair to me.

Photo courtesy

Who Said Perl is Dead?

perl.pngI’ve been following the issue list for Google App Engine (just realized it doesn’t have an “s” in the official name), and the two top issues are a dead heat between Perl and Ruby in the requests to have Ruby or Perl support. Ruby, as of this writing is at 361 votes, and Perl is right on it’s tail at 347 votes. Perl until a few hours ago was pretty far ahead of Ruby. PHP is only at 70 votes, and Java is at 247 votes.

Does this mean Perl is making a comeback? Did we ever really leave Perl? As an avid Perl developer this makes me happy, as Perl can do anything Ruby or even Rails can do, and even more (Perl XS and tie-ins to C are very powerful!). All of my current Facebook Apps and OpenSocial Apps I do in Perl on an MVC Framework called Catalyst – it’s very scalable! It never made sense to me when people said that “Perl was Dead”. Is this just a reflection of the type of Audience Google supports, or is it reflective of what new media developers are actually developing in?

I’m hesitant in posting this, as it could bring more Ruby voters to the mix, but hey, let’s keep it fair. If you want to vote for Perl, click on the star here. If you want to vote for Ruby, click on the star here. Not a developer of either? Then you’re on your own. 😛

I wonder how Python would fare if it got equal treatment.

UPDATE: Within just a day after this post things have gone back to how I would expect them to be. Java has a strong lead over all the others, followed by PHP, then Ruby, then Perl. Perhaps the issues just needed a little exposure. Based on the interest, Perl is still far from dead though.

The Reason Google Apps Engine Could be a Competitor to Facebook

The hype is out there and it is real. After the launch of Google Apps Engine, everyone is up in arms as to what exactly it is, and who needs to watch out. The truth is, everyone needs to watch out when Google launches something, since because of tight integration with all of their products, a slight tweak in one product could mean cross-integration between others, making it almost impossible for you to compete as a company because all of the sudden your space is being threatened by the new products.


Google Announces "Google Apps Engine"

google_appengine.pngOkay, so I was wrong – it was worth a try. I do still expect more large announcements related to Social Media from Google. Just recently, Google announced their “Google Apps Engine” (will it be nicknamed, “GAE”?). It is essentially a competitor with Amazon’s EC2, S3, and SimpleDB, but at a much higher level. You’ll be required to interface with the service via the Python Programming language at first, but it is intended to make scalability and server set up much easier. Google does say that the underlying infrastructure is entirely language neutral, so we should expect more languages in the future. The advantage over Amazon is Google takes care of all the server set up for you – this is essential for a small business that can’t afford to hire an expensive Linux Admin as Amazon requires.

The Service is only available to the first 10,000 developers that apply at, and will be available starting at 9pm PST tonight. You can read more at Venturebeat and TechCrunch here and here.