Claiming that Google has willfully ignored its trademark rights, Jews for Jesus (JFJ) filed a lawsuit against the internet megafirm on December 21. A non-JFJ blog called jewsforjesus.blogspot.com, hosted by a Google subsidiary, posts highly critical comments about JFJ. The blog's author lists himself as "Whistle Blower," but provides no other identification.
"We have no problem with criticism," said Susan Perlman, associate executive director of JFJ. "Just do it under a name that's not confusing to the public."
In its complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court in New York, Jews for Jesus claims that this Web address (URL) dilutes its trademark and could confuse people who believe that JFJ authorizes the site.
Google, which declined repeated CT requests for comment, had sent an e-mail to JFJ's attorney, suggesting the group work out its difficulties with the still-anonymous "Whistle Blower." (The blogger did not respond to an e-mail from CT.)
JFJ has gone to court once before in a Web-related case. The evangelistic ministry won a 1998 verdict against an Orthodox Jew who established a www.jews-for-jesus.org website that linked to "anti-missionary" material. But experts note that the 1998 case involved a "top-level" Web domain. The Blogspot domain in the current lawsuit is a "third-level subdomain," which may not be protected under laws against "cybersquatting."
No trial date has been set. Dawn Eden, who writes the weekly Blog On! column for the New York Daily News, says it's unclear how the courts would rule, but it's not surprising that the group would ask for its name back.
"The rule bloggers go by is that you don't 'steal' another person's name as the main URL for a blog," Eden said. "However, if you are commenting about that person, you can have a 'Jews-for-Jesus-Watch' or 'Jews-for-Jesus-Stinks' name, so long as it's clear that it's not the organization that's making the site."
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Jews for Jesus's real website has commentary on the suit.
Not surprisingly, jewsforjesus.blogspot.com has many posts about the lawsuit. In fact, the blog had only three posts before the lawsuit was filed, and now has more than two dozen.
SearchEngineWatch has a copy of Jews for Jesus's complaint against Google.
Eric Goldman's CircleID blog, which looks at copyright issues, doesn't think too highly of the suit.
The Likelihood of Confusion blog has twice examined the Google suit. The blog is notable because it is run by Ronald Coleman, who was the lawyer who lost the 1998jews-for-jesus.org case.
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