Back in June last year I wrote about how a Vexatious Litigant by the name of Leo Stoller had gone after Castlecops by claiming that he (Leo) owned the trademark “Castle”:
I later reported that the USPTO had finally run out of patience with Stoller:
Stoller has now drawn the ire of no less than Google, by apparently claiming that he (Stoller) owns Federal registration of the Google trademark (and common-law rights) via the various corporate entities mentioned in the lawsuit.
Google alleges false advertising, RICO violations and unfair competition.
Google v. Central Mfg Inc., No. 07CV 385
Google’s prayer to the Court for relief requests:
1) An injunction prohibiting the Defendants from engaging in further acts of false advertising, racketeering and unfair competition as to Google.
2) An order requiring the dissolution and/or reorganisation of the enterprise and requiring the divestment of any interest, whether direct or indirect, therein.
3) Three times the plaintiff’s (Google’s) damages and defendant’s profits, together with reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.
4) Three times the plaintiff’s damages and costs of suit, including reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.
5) Punitive damages sufficient to punish the Defendant and deter such misconduct in future.
6) Prejudgment interest, as appropriate.
7) Such other and further relief as the Court deems just and proper.
Commentaries on the lawsuit:
So, what drew Stoller to Google’s attention? Stoller did it to himself. Research reveals that back in 2006 Google applied to register the mark GOOGLE for “toys and sporting equipment, namely plastic exercise balls.”, and that this registration application led to Stoller filing an opposition, wherein he claimed to own the mark “Google” (Source: The TTABlog: http://thettablog.blogspot.com/2006/04/leo-stoller-opposes-google-application.html). Surely Stoller did not honestly believe that Google would let such claims stand unchallenged. The suit was eventually dismissed with prejudice by Stoller’s bankruptcy trustee.
Stoller also petitioned for the cancellation of the mark Google for search engine services – again Stoller’s bankrutpcy trustee withdrew and dismissed “with prejudice” the petition (Source: The TTABlog: http://thettablog.blogspot.com/2006/12/stoller-trustee-consents-to-dismissal.html)
As much as I dislike Stoller’s activities, I have to ask, why the heck did Google apply to register the mark for “toys and sporting equipment, namely plastic exercise balls” in the first place? Google don’t manufacture sports equipment, and Google cannot expect to stop everybody from using the word “Google” in whatever context – especially now that Google is a transitive verb [;)] http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/google (Wordnet (Princeton University) lists google as a noun *and* a verb – http://dictionary.reference.com/cite.html?qh=google&ia=wn)
How did Stoller become a bankrupt? Well, in what ended up being another fantastic misjudgment on Stoller’s part, Stoller himself started things by lodging a Chapter 13 voluntary petition for relief back in December 2005 whilst embroiled in a lawsuit with Pure Fishing (another one of Stoller’s attempts to sue for trademark infringement lawsuits). The Chapter 13 had the effect of staying the lawsuit against Pure Fishing which Stoller was on the verge of losing in spectacular style. In a Chapter 13, Stoller would have controlled the reorganisation of his debts and finances.
The Pure Fishing lawsuit was decided in Pure’s favour in December 2006, with judgment being entered for the amazing sum of $969,751.81.
The Chapter 13 was converted to a Chapter 7 insolvency after Pure Fishing lodged a claim in Stoller’s bankruptcy proceedings, and requested the conversion to Chapter 7. The Court agreed to the request and a trustee was immediately appointed to manage Stoller’s estate. By December 2006 the trustee not only had control of Stoller’s bankrupt estate, he also had the ability to begin, maintain, terminate, or settle any pending proceeding that involves Stoller or any of his proprietorship entities AND Stoller’s actions as sole share holder of all corporate entities owned or controlled by Stoller – oops.
Why was Stoller’s Chapter 13 converted to a Chapter 7? For starters, it was because of bad faith on the part of Stoller – bad faith in this case a being lack of candor and a failure to maintain books and records, the fact that Stoller would be denied a discharge under Chapter 7 because of said failure and the fact that he transferred real property to his daughter just before starting the Chapter 13 proceedings, and didn’t declare that property, Stoller’s failure to disclose the existence of unincorporated business entities he owns, and, ironically, because Stoller does not have a regular income and because to convert to Chapter 7 is in the best interest of creditors.
Court documents reveal the quote about Stoller revealing that Stoller, “who was actively engaged in business for many years lacked business books and records from which his financial condition and income could be ascertained so as to determine whether his Chapter 13 Plan for payments to the Chapter 13 Trustee was proposed in good faith. Second, [Stoller] deeded title in valuable real estate to a family member shortly before filing in bankruptcy and did so without apparent consideration. The circumstances of that property transfer raised serious questions as to whether it should or could be attacked as a fraud on creditors or otherwise, an issue that should be investigated by a Chapter 7 Trustee.” (Source: http://www.ilnb.uscourts.gov/JudgeSchmetterer/Opinions/Stoller.pdf).
The Findings of Fact in the ilbn.uscourts.gov PDF make for interesting reading.
Information about Stoller with links to court documentation that was used for this article is available at Wikipedia: