San Diego Trademark Attorney® Blog

"Hanginout" Alleges Google's Use of "Hangouts" is a Trademark Infringement

December 11, 2013

google.jpgSan Diego - A lawsuit filed in late November by San Diego based Hanginout, Inc. claims that Google, Inc. has infringed its trademark for its video-focused social media app. The smaller company located in Carlsbad claims that it was using "Hanginout" before Google began use of "Hangouts." The complaint demands that Google immediately stop use of "Hangouts" and that the court award lost profits and impose punitive damages.

Hanginout, Inc. filed its trademark application for "Hanginout" with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in July 2012, through the company's complaint claims that the brand has been around since 2009. The application covers, among other things, "Computer application software for mobile devices for sharing information, photos, audio and video content" as well as "providing online and telecommunication facilities for real-time and on-demand interaction between and among users of computers, mobile and handheld computers."

In contrast, Google's trademark application for "Hangouts" was filed in April of 2013 and through more expansive, covers essentially the same goods and services as the "Hanginout" Application. According to the lawsuit, which was filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, Hanginout is a platform that enables users to build video profiles and send video chat messages to followers. The description of the Google Hangouts app on its website describes how the program allows users to "Turn any Hangout into a live video call with up to 10 friends."

Google's trademark application was suspended upon filing by the USPTO due to Hanginout's previously filed Application. The complaint claims that, "Google's 'Hangouts' trademark is nearly identical to Hanginout's 'Hanginout' trademark in both appearance and sound," and that "Google's infringement of Hanginout's trademarks was willful and with knowledge that ... use of the 'Hangout' trademark would or was likely to cause confusion and deceive others."

The complaint goes on to point out that, "Google has advertised Google's Hangouts to replicate Hanginout's products' capabilities." It also brings to light several examples of what Hanginout describes as intentionally confusing marketing materials. Google has yet to offer any response as to the lawsuit.