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.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

Why defining brand strategy is vital to capitalising on quick wins

Big brands were once protected from small brands by high barriers to entry. Big brands had the resources to employ big agencies, to crack big ideas and to invest in big campaigns. They had the luxury of time to debate strategies and work on long-term innovation pipelines. Retailers used to partner with big brands.

Troy McKinnna

Co-founder, Agents of Spring, Calm & Stormy

3 ways to leverage the talents of your team to avoid disruption

​According to the World Economic Forum in its most recent The Future of Jobs report, the most important skills for the future are not technical, task-oriented skills, but higher-order skills such as creativity, social influence, active learning, and analytical thinking.

Gihan Perera

Futurist, leadership consultant

CMOs, it’s time to stop squandering customer attention

Businesses continue to highly value the attention they buy through paid media, yet at the same time, many continue to disregard and under-value opportunities to connect with customers using their owned media.

Well written Vanessa!! Agreed with your view that human experience is marketing's next frontier. Those businesses who are focused on the ...

Clyde Griffith

Forget customer experience, human experience is marketing's next frontier

Read more

Great tips for tops skills need to develop and stay competitive

Nick

The top skills needed to stay competitive in a rapidly changing workforce

Read more

The popularity of loyalty programs is diminishing, though I'd say it is because customers are savvy enough to recognise when a loyalty pr...

Heather

It’s time for marketers to rethink their approach to ‘loyalty’

Read more

Thanks Nadia for sharing this blog. It has really useful and amazing information about Salesforce Commerce Cloud and digital engagement w...

Holly Smith

Adidas taps data and technology smarts to build personalised digital engagement with consumers

Read more

clearly someone who's jealous and only comments from the safety of being behind their keyboard

Peter Sibson

The purpose of purpose - Brand science - CMO Australia

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in