Google Goes After Stoller

By Eric Goldman

Google v. Central Mfg Inc., No. 07CV 385 (N.D. Ill. complaint filed Jan. 19, 2007)

Leo Stoller is a notorious figure in the trademark community, especially among the hundreds (thousands?) of trademark owners he’s targeted with demands for cash based on alleged infringement of his rights. As the Wikipedia entry relates, Stoller has been labeled by a court as a “vexatious litigant,” repeatedly has been ordered to pay his targets’ attorneys’ fees, and filed so many time extension requests in the TTAB that the board limited his ability to file additional extension requests. I think many of his targets might consider him the #1 example of a “trademark troll.” (See the 12,000+ Google hits for “leo stoller” and “trademark troll”). See also the NY Times profile from 2005.

There have been many attempts to curb Stoller’s activities, but this lawsuit may be the most serious. Google has sued Stoller for false advertising, unfair competition and RICO violations for claiming that Stoller owns the Google trademark (and that Google doesn’t). Rebecca and John Welch have the rundown. Google has the cash and mettle to challenge Stoller, they are sympathetic litigants, and they unquestionably know what it means to fight Stoller but chose to do so anyway. Should they succeed in their efforts, I think it’s likely that other trademark owners who are targeted by Stoller will follow suit.