Porn site reveals too much BMW, car maker says

BMW is trying to clean up its act on the Web. The German car maker sent a letter of complaint to an adult search engine based in the Netherlands, asking it to remove references to its cars that appear in search listings for adult content.

The search site, AskJolene.com, lets users search for keywords, such as the name of a porn star, and produces links to picture galleries hosted on other sites. It is like a risque sister to Ask Jeeves, although the two are not related.

A search for BMW produces eight gallery listings. One shows a woman tied up on the hood of a car being sprayed with a hose. Another includes a story about a woman who tries a "dating" service and is whisked off by a man in a BMW.

The car maker moans that its trademarks are being infringed. Including its name in the listings is "detrimental to the distinctive character" of the BMW brand, the company said in the letter it sent Monday. It gave the search engine two days to remove the listings and block access to the offending galleries.

AskJolene was considering its options Wednesday. Complying with the request means its search results would "not be 100 percent legitimate," said marketing chief Mike Schwalbach. It could also set a precedent affecting other search engines, he said.

"Our lawyer is investigating the best options and we will take his legal advice," he said.

WiseGuys of the Netherlands operates AskJolene, and its servers are hosted in the Netherlands, Schwalbach said.

BMW confirmed that it sent the letter but declined further comment. It may be heartened to know that it is not the most popular car maker among pornographers: searching for Porsche at AskJolene produces more than twice as many hits.

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James Niccolai

IDG News Service
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