Wednesday, July 7, 2004

Call it the Clash of the Googles., a children’s Web site based in Darnestown, thinks Google Inc. is hitting a little too close to home as the giant Internet search engine expands into selling children’s and other products.

So parent company Stelor Productions filed documents Tuesday with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to strip Google Inc. of its ability to use the Google name on merchandise targeted toward children and on its new e-mail service, called Gmail.

“We’ve been talking to these guys for five or six years begging them to meet with us,” said Steven Esrig, chief executive officer of Stelor Productions. “They are trying to put us out of business.”

Google Inc., of Mountain View, Calif., is in its quiet period as it awaits its initial public offering of stock, and declined to comment yesterday. was started in 2002 and targets 2- to 10-year-olds with fuzzy characters named Googles.

Googles are fictional creatures from the land of Goo. They are sent on a special mission to planet Earth where they help children learn about wellness, self-esteem and the environment. They also sell merchandise.

The Googles from Goo story and product lines are based on the 1991 book “Googles and the Planet Goo” by Steven A. Silvers. In 2002, Stelor Productions bought the intellectual property rights to the Googles from Auroa Communications in South Florida.

The Web site as of April had registered about 130,000 children and logged 170,000 weekly visitors. Mr. Esrig declined to reveal Stelor Production’s financial information.

The company plans to release a Googles music album on this week and wants to introduce a Web mail service called Goomail for registered users through its Web site in the near future.

Mr. Esrig sees the Googles and their accompanying Web site and merchandise as a potentially successful business that has plenty of room to grow — if customers and investors don’t get confused.

The company said on its Web site that potential investors did not want to invest in the business because they thought customers would confuse Googles with Google.

“We heard the same thing again and again — ‘What about Google — are you a part of them?’” the Web site said. “We also heard many potential partners express concern about the confusion our name may cause in the marketplace.”

Ultimately, Mr. Esrig hopes to reach an agreement with Google enabling both companies to operate and be profitable.

“At the end of this crazy day, I feel the same as I did at the beginning; there is plenty of space for my Googles from Goo and there is plenty of space for Google from California,” Mr. Esrig said.

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