What's In a Name?

Yesterday, Stelor Productions sent out a press release with a headline that would make a penny-stock operator proud: "Googles to Google: Stay Out of Our Space." Needless to say, the story generated instant buzz.

You see, Stelor Productions is the operator of Googles, which is the developer of alien characters known as "Googles from Goo" targeted at the kids market. The company has produced online games, stickers, CDs, toys, and even music, in a deal with Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) iTunes.

And what is a better way to build a brand than to bring legal action against Google, right before its highly anticipated initial public offering (IPO)? That's what happened yesterday when Stelor Productions filed trademark proceedings with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Interestingly enough, lawsuit-as-PR is nothing new in the IPO world. For example, in 1997, on the eve of the Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) IPO, the company was served by Barnes & Noble. The claim was over whether Amazon.com was the "world's largest bookstore."

And there was CertCo's lawsuit against PayPal -- which is now a part of eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY  ) -- for alleged violations of its payment technologies. The IPO had to be delayed. In fact, PayPal amended its IPO filing and called the lawsuit an attempt to "disrupt our initial public offering."

As for Googles, it will have an extremely tough fight. Google is a global brand that rivals Coca-Cola and Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX  ) . The value is, well, priceless, and Google will spend the resources necessary to fight for it. For example, Google recently sued Booble.com for trademark infringement. Booble.com claims it has a First Amendment right to engage in parody.

But there is one lawsuit that Google should have some concern about. In 2002, Overture sued Google for patent infringement regarding ad placements for search engines. The suit was filed against FindWhat.com (Nasdaq: FWHT  ) , as well.

Of course, now Overture is a part of Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO  ) , which has the resources to wage a massive legal fight. Maybe this is something Yahoo! might rattle before Google's IPO.

Fool contributor Tom Taulli is the author of The EDGAR Online Guide to Decoding Financial Statements. He does not own shares in any of the stocks mentioned.


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