Ever used online directory and job site Doogle? Well, it’s definitely on Google’s radar… the tech giant’s legal team has reportedly issued a letter of demand to the South African company for using a website name, URL and logo which is too similar to its own.
As originally reported by Beeld, the 23 year old owner of Doogle-it Database Administrators (Pty) Ltd, Andries Maree, said he has been contacted by Google’s lawyers. De Kock Attorneys, the intellectual property law firm representing Maree, said in a statement to Memeburn that the letter of demand claims that the logo of Doogle’s website is “confusingly similar” to its trademarks registered in South Africa. Google has requested Doogle to cease using its Doogle mark and cancel its domain name, which was registered in late December 2010. It says that Doogle’s logo and search functionality is too similar, and may make people assume that the website is affiliated with Google.
Julie Taylor, head of communications and public affairs for Google in Sub Saharan Africa, told Memeburn that although she was unable to comment on individual cases, Google is “passionate about protecting the reputation of our brand as an objective and fair provider of search results.”
“We simply ask our users not to shorten, abbreviate, or create acronyms out of Google trademarks. We have to turn down many requests for use of Google brand features because sites imply that Google is endorsing them or is otherwise affiliated with them,” she said.
Maree has denied that his logo and search functionality are similar, saying that “on Doogle, you just search our website. On Google, you search the whole internet”. De Kock Attorneys said that the services are distinguishable from Google’s in that Maree’s company only “provides online search facilities on its website for specific directories… for entries registered on its local databases.” Maree said he is willing to place a notice on his site which states he is not affiliated with Google.
Maree claims his site is a noble venture, as he “started Doogle to help the unemployed”, in order to create a central database where job seekers can upload their information and be contacted by potential employers.
The eclectic site also hosts a business directory, classified ads, property listings and an auto trading section. In the first year of its existence, and Maree claims the site attracted “almost a million hits (sic.)”.
What the actual traffic of the site is remains unclear however, because “hits” is a problematic metric that has not been used to measure the popularity of websites for years. Maree has been approached by Memeburn for further comment, but has yet to provide information on Doogle’s page impression and unique user numbers.
Maree said that when he started the site, he had tried to register other domain names, but all the others he wanted had already been purchased.
Maree’s lawyer, Emmie De Kock, said that she was consulting with her client on how to proceed, but that they were expecting a possible David and Goliath style battle.
Update on 16 November: Edited and updated the paragraph regarding Doogle’s traffic statistics.