Google China sued over Chinese name

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 July, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 July, 2007, 12:00am

Google China, a subsidiary of the world's most popular internet search engine, is being sued by a Beijing-based company that claims the unit is using the same Chinese name, 'Guge', as it does.

The case against Google China was accepted by a Haidian district court in Beijing on June 29, said Tian Yunshan, company secretary for Beijing Guge Science & Technology.

Mr Tian was not claiming any damages, requesting only that Google China change its commercial name, according to mainland reports.

Even so, the action prompted mainland press criticism that the accuser was using the lawsuit to promote itself.

Mr Tian, rejecting the accusation, saying Beijing Guge had registered with the name 'Guge' in March 2006, a month before Google started to use the same Chinese name.

'During the past five months, our office has received so many phone calls from people trying to contact Google China. We tried to change our company name to Guge Beijng, but it was not approved by the authorities,' Mr Tian said.

'We also sent letters to Google China but received no response, so we filed this lawsuit,' he added.

Mr Tian declined to disclose his company's main area of businesses. According to mainland press, Beijing Guge operates an online-shopping website.

In April 12 last year, California-based Google said its China unit would start to use the name 'Guge', which literally means 'valley song' or 'crop song'.

Google China's spokesperson declined to comment on continuing lawsuits.

The company previously said it had filed trademark applications in a variety of areas to register 'Guge' with the mainland's Trademark Office of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce as early as January last year.

In March, Google was sued by media conglomerate Viacom, which accused the widely popular video-sharing site, YouTube, owned by Google, of 'massive intentional copyright infringement' and seeking more than US$1 billion in damages.