Google accused in High Court of trademark infringement

German company alleges use of ‘Team Drives’ product name infringes its rights

Google argues it has not used the Team Drives term in a trademark sense. Photograph: AP

Google argues it has not used the Team Drives term in a trademark sense. Photograph: AP

 

A German software company has asked the High Court for Europe-wide injunctions preventing alleged trademark infringement by internet giant Google.

TeamDrive Systems GMBH, which makes secure cloud-based file-sharing software for businesses and personal use, wants the orders against Google Ireland Ltd and Google Commerce Ltd.

It claims Google’s use of a software product called ‘Team Drives’ infringes the Germany firm’s European-registered trademark obtained in 2006.

The company wants the court to grant injunctions, which would apply pending a full hearing of the case, preventing the alleged infringement.

The claims are denied and Google is opposing the injunctions, saying any such injunction will damage it.

Opening the application before Mr Justice Tony O’Connor on Tuesday, Denis McDonald SC, for the German company, said it is a moderate-sized company offering a range of products all under the TeamDrive name.

Its software has won awards and its clients include the German Bar Council, he said.

Counsel said Google had last year decided to re-brand some of its products, including its Google Drive product.

This was to grow its share in the secure file sync and share market and was aimed at enterprises or businesses, a market in which his client has operated for many years, counsel said.

Grave concern

Google’s use of the term ‘Team Drives’ or ‘Team Drive’ for identical services offered by his client was something of grave concern to the plaintiff and the use was “effectively identical” to his client’s trademark.

The fact there is a gap between the words team and drive was “neither here nor there,” counsel added.

At a conference in San Francisco earlier this year, Google had a major event surrounding ‘Team Drives’ and the term ‘Team Drives’ was used by Google in promotional material and literature and in media coverage of the product.

Google’s lawyers had said in correspondence the use of the term was not used in a trademark sense and was merely to describe a function of its Google Drive Product and Google could not be responsible for what was contained in media reports.

TeamDrive does not accept Google’s response and is concerned about the perception and reaction by the public to the product offered by Google, Mr McDonald said.

The hearing continues.