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“Before there was ‘Google,’ there was ‘Googles,'” begins a complaint filed in New York Supreme Court.
According to the new lawsuit, Googles was initially a 1995 book titled The Googles From Goo before evolving into a multimedia platform for children controlled by Stelor Productions, the predecessor of SM Kids.
SM Kids asserts that not only does it enjoy rights to Googles, including ownership of trademark registrations, but also that it came to a settlement in 2008 with Google to resolve litigation “arising out of the understandable confusion between the ‘Google’ and ‘Googles’ brands.”
Google is now being sued for allegedly breaching the “Googles” agreement.
“As part of the Settlement Agreement, Google agreed not to make any material modification to its then-current offering of search engine-related products or services in a manner that would likely create confusion with Stelor’s children’s-related multimedia business, including, for example, by creating, designing, or publishing products that provide fictional children’s related content,” states the complaint.
SN Kids believes that Google is flouting this agreement by operating Google Play — the app store for the Android operating system which includes games, music, books, movies and more for kids — and YouTube Kids, a mobile app that facilitates the sharing of videos appropriate for children.
“The release of these products and services constitutes an unequivocal breach of the Settlement Agreement by Google,” continues the complaint. “By so doing, Google has severely damaged Stelor’s business: investors and financiers are unwilling to provide capital to Stelor to promote its children’s-related multimedia content business under the name Googles because they are concerned that Google has already prevented Stelor from progressing with and growing its business.”
The plaintiff, represented by attorneys at Davis Wright Tremaine, demand $25 million in compensatory damages and an injunction that would prohibit the operation of Google Play and YouTube Kids. What’s more, SN Kids further demands a declaration that moving forward, Google can’t create, develop and publish children’s-related content.
Here’s the full complaint. Google hasn’t yet responded to the lawsuit.
Google, though, isn’t the first tech giant to face a problem of this sort.
Anyone remember what happened to Apple Inc. when it got into the music business with its iPod? The move more than a decade ago provoked litigation from Apple Corps, the label founded in the 1960s by members of The Beatles which alleged the computer company had violated an agreement. The dispute was eventually settled with the parties figuring out a way to coexist and share bites from the apple tree.
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