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Sunday, January 01, 2006                                                                                       View Comments

Jews for Jesus Sues Google Over Blogger's Alleged Misuse of Trademark

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A Christian evangelical group is suing Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) for allegedly infringing on its trademark.

Jews for Jesus, which publishes several evangelistic Web sites in its mission to reach Jews, is claiming that a Web log hosted through the search giant's Blogspot service is harming its reputation. Google's Blogspot and Blogger are free services that allow people to set up blogs with any available URL.

Jews for Jesus filed suit in U.S. District Court in New York on Wednesday, seeking to force Google to give the organization control of the URL, along with unspecified monetary damages.

Susan Pearlman, associate executive director with Jews for Jesus, told TechNewsWorld that the organization asked the site holder, who goes by the anonymous moniker of "Whistle Blower" to relinquish the name and he, or she, refused.

"We also sent Google several letters making them aware that our trademark was being used on their Blogspot and they did not respond," she said. "So we've filed a complaint with the court."


On a Mission
The blog in question is located at www.jewsforjesus.blogspot.com. Whistle Blower launched it in 2005 and began posting critical opinions of Jews for Jesus, though the site only had three entries until the evangelical organization filed its lawsuit.

"We have a very simple message," Pearlman said. "That Jesus is the Messiah of Israel and savior of the world, and we use our name to proclaim their message. We don't want someone else using it for their particular agenda."

Whistle Blower has responded to the lawsuit with a blog-based attack on the group in the form of a letter to Jews for Jesus employees.

"Hasn't your employer gone too far? Haven't they this time, for sure, brought disrepute on the name of your lord by this action? Could this be the moment of your decision?" Whistle Blower asks in his blog.

Should Have Known Better
Blog expert B.L. Ochman, president of WhatNextOnline.com, told TechNewsWorld she has long wondered about the fact that people can register any URL on Blogger, Blogspot, and other blogging communities. Specifically, she has wondered when a problem like this would arise.

"It is an issue and a very big one. It seems as though there's a huge opportunity for somebody to hurt an organization's reputation by doing something like this," Ochman said. "It wouldn't surprise me if more of this begins to happen. But I am not so sure that Google is responsible."

An Old Dilemma
This is not a new dilemma. The same issue has been raised with non-blog URLs in the past. In fact, Jews for Jesus won a similar case some years ago. But Ochman said if an organization is concerned that someone will use its name in a blog URL in an uncomplimentary way, then that organization should be sure to register that URL for itself.

"We've been here before. It's just that much more indication of how companies are failing to really understand social media and the implications that it has for marketing," Ochman said. "There's always going to be some danger, but it just means there is more for everyone to monitor. It's going to get harder and harder."