Google Hangouts infringes trademark, says US company Hanginout

Hanginout started the lawsuit while its trademark application is still pending

Google's video-chat service Hangouts wilfully infringes on the still pending trademark of Hanginout, the company said in a lawsuit filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California on Tuesday.

Hanginout, based in Carlsbad, California, makes a video profile app for iOS. The app allows users to interact via recorded videos. They can find and follow people and celebrities, ask them questions and receive instant personal video responses.

The company was founded in 2011, but said in the court filing that it has been developing its products since 2009.

Google Hangouts was launched in May this year and offers a messaging and video chat platform that allows users to send instant messages, share photos and talk to each other via live video.

"Google's 'Hangouts' mark is nearly identical to Hanginout's HANGINOUT mark in both appearance and sound," the company said in the filing, adding that Google therefore infringes on Hanginouts trademark.

Hanginout's trademark application is still pending though. It filed for U.S. trademark applications on July 12, 2012. Google applied for the Hangouts mark in April 2013, according to the filing.

Google's application was however suspended in July by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) because there was "a likelihood of confusion" with Hanginout's pending trademark, the USPTO wrote. This may lead to the bar of the registration of Google's Hangouts mark, said the USPTO, adding that all action on Google's application was suspended until the Hanginout mark is either registered or abandoned.

Google's use of Hanginout constitutes willful trademark infringement, has caused significant confusion in the marketplace and is likely to deceive consumers, Hanginout said in the complaint.

Moreover, Hanginout said, Google also committed acts of unfair competition because it "purposefully attempts to heighten the likelihood that consumers will be confused" and because an inaccurate appearance of affiliation was created.

It therefore asked the court for a preliminary and permanent injunction from trademark infringement and unfair business practices by Google as well as an amount of damages to be determined on trial. It also asked the court to treble the damages for willful infringement and unfair competition, and demanded a jury trial.

Google did not respond to a request for comment.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Googlelegalintellectual propertyHanginout

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Loek Essers

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?