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Doogle vs Google? Tech giant issues SA company with letter of demand

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.

Author | Lauren Granger

Lauren Granger
While studying towards her Bachelor of Journalism degree at Rhodes University, Lauren gave into her fascination with everything digital. As she was more interested in creeping tech sites and Twitter than she was in picking up one of those printed things called 'newspapers', she decided to specialise in... More


  1. Eduan

    November 14, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    “almost 1 million hits”, I need to know what his secret is to building such a shitty site and sill getting that amount of traffic.

  2. Marcus Grove

    November 14, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    If Google thinks this site mirrors its own functionality and mark then Google has bigger issues to worry about regarding brand recognition. Do they think so little of their users? Do they really think the normal sane user will mistake this site as being part of Google (at all)? Still, this site is terrible and hurts my eyes.

  3. Ashley Kleynhans

    November 14, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    I said this on MyBroadband and I’ll say it again. You can’t always believe everything you read. This reeks of a publicity stunt and the only reason why his site has “almost 1 million hits” is because of people who fall for these types of publicity stunts. I can’t believe the journalists in South Africa take the bait and fall for this type of nonsense.

  4. Alan Alston

    November 14, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    Hits are a terrible way of looking at traffic.

    I’d guess each page consists of 10 hits so maybe Doogle is getting 100,000 page views. Let’s assume an user views 4 pages on the site over 12 sessions (one a month), so know you’re looking at +-2,000 unique visitors over the entire year. That’s just less than 200 unique visitors per month.

    (Thumbsuck maths & conversion technique but still, hits prove nothing much.)

  5. Carl

    November 14, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    I think the secret is in the choice of name and url.

  6. kkkevsta

    November 14, 2012 at 9:51 pm

    Is this some kind of hoax article? There is nothing in the site that is even remotely similar to Google except that the name rhymes. In fact if I was Google I would be suing the newspapers reporting on this non-story for implying that the public could possibly be confused.

    I gotta stop reading this crap.

  7. diggie

    November 15, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    Thank Google for getting him free publication. I’m sure he thought of the implications of using the name, but if Google is so keen on keeping their brand, why don’t the buy every domain name that might be close to theirs and reserve it? That would be unfair. Change the logo and get on with it. By the way, joblessness is huge in SA, I lift my hat to him for helping people. Not even the government thought of this!

  8. jacques

    November 16, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    no one is falling for any bait. . . its a fact that google has contacted them. and it is nonsense yes, from Googles side

  9. Pingback: Weekly Review of Intellectual Property News from Africa and Beyond « Centre for IP & IT Law Blog

  10. Dooglefan

    December 20, 2012 at 8:44 am

    1.16 million hits in ONE day after the news broke. Well done Doogle

  11. Pingback: After legal hassles, Sweden’s Language Council kills the word ‘unGoogleable’ | memeburn

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