It was just a matter of time. Google is getting complaints by trademark owners that listings that appear on their app store violate trademarks. A app will be made to almost the same exact features as a popular one. The maker of this look a like app will also use the same name and images, thus confusing customers. This counterfeit app will get many downloads as users think it is the real app. This is all to common on sites like eBay. Not with a App, but with almost every other product.
Trademark holders are asking Google to develop a program like eBays VeRO system. eBay allows trademark owners to automatically take down listings that violate their trademarks.
Google has made similar programs for websites like Youtube. A trademark or copyright holder can take down videos on there really fast. I am sure Google will soon deploy something like that for its app store. Google Play is only growing with new apps and downloads. They will need to address this sooner or later.
Spy Phone Labs v. Google
Spy Phone Labs, launched the ‘Spy Phone’ app on Google’s Android platform in August 2012. The app is designed to track a device’s usage and location, including monitoring phone calls and text messages, and according to the federal complaint, it had 1.1 million downloads in its first year. As with any popular concept, a host of similar applications soon followed which often used all or part of the ‘Spy Phone’ terms. Spy Phone Labs, which has a registered trademark for SPY PHONE, filed numerous takedown complaints last year, using the Google Play reporting mechanism for trademark infringement.
However, according to the filing, apps initially removed from the store “soon reappeared” with “no apparent penalty or repercussions to the infringing developers”. Other events transpired, including the ‘Spy Phone’ app being removed and reinstated with a new name due to allegations that it is spyware and Google claiming apps using the word ‘spy’ were no longer permitted on the Google Play store. The federal complaint alleges that Google’s actions constituted contributory trademark infringe. You can read the filing here.
Not the only problem Google has:
Google receives a lot of criticism from trademark holders. Its ad network which is very large has a lot of ads leading to websites that sell counterfeit products. Granted there is no way for Google to review every ad that is posted. Last year Google announced they would spend $50 million to fight advertisements that led to online pharmacies that sold counterfeit pills. No money however for other counterfeits.