The American Chemical Society filed a complaint on Dec. 9 against Google Inc. in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The complaint contends that Google’s use of the trademark “Scholar” for its Google Scholar literature-search engine constitutes trademark infringement and unfair competition.
A beta version of Google Scholar (http://scholar.google.com) debuted in mid-November. The search service allows users, at no cost, to “search specifically for scholarly literature, including peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, preprints, abstracts, and technical reports from all broad areas of research,” according to a Google website.
The ACS complaint contends that Google’s use of the word scholar infringes on ACS’s SciFinder Scholar and Scholar trademarks and constitutes unfair competition. SciFinder Scholar, a desktop research tool designed for academic scientists, was launched six years ago. ACS’s Chemical Abstracts Service estimates that about 1,000 colleges and universities have bought the service, which provides access to all of CAS’s databases, including information on journal and patent references, substance information, regulated chemicals, chemical reactions, and chemical supplier information.
I don’t remember enough about trademark law to comment intelligently, at least without doing more research than I feel like doing. But this sounds pretty fishy to me.