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Products use trademarked Google logos without permission

Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) "Scroogled" campaign -- a series of sarcastic ads masterminded by Mark Penn, best-known as a campaign strategist for Bill and Hillary Clinton's respective Presidential runs -- was greeted with mixed reactions.  Some of the ads, which attacked Microsoft's search arch-rival Google Inc. (GOOG) -- bordered on being mildly humorous.  Others fell flat.

In the end Microsoft seemed to be letting the campaign quietly die down -- or so it seemed.

But while the broadcast ads tapered off, Microsoft has taken the campaign to the web.  Its latest attack -- which is featured on mugs, t-shirts, and other memorabilia available from the Microsoft store carrying various anti-Google slogans, including the familiar "Scroogled" parody of Google's colorful log.

Perhaps most eye-catching, though, is a fresh attack proclaiming:

Keep calm while we steal your data.

Zing! The quote on that hot cup of sass alludes to the internet company's snooping on citizens' open Wi-Fi networks via its StreetView cars.  Google claimed the data collection was "accidental" despite internal emails clearly stating that it was an attempt to collect informations on users to improve marketing.

So far Google has already been slapped with at least three fines internationally as officials declined to buy Google's excuses about "accidents".  Most recently Google was ordered to pay a $17M USD fine to U.S. federal regulators. It paid a separate $7M USD settlement to U.S. state regulators and a $189,000 USD settlement to regulators in Germany.  Google faces similar or potentially even bigger fines in other European Union member nations

Google Street View
Google claimed it snooped on users on "accident" despite internal emails revealing it did so for profit.  The company has been fined multiple times for the spying. [Image Source: Jacopast/Wikipedia]

In addition to mugs, the material is also printed on pre-washed T-shirts made from socially conscious fabrics.  The shirts are the work of American Apparel, Inc. (NYSEMKT:APP), the "fair-trade" espousing brand beloved by hipsters across the country.

The quote is surprisingly edgy and internet culture aware, as it seemingly hops on board the popular "Keep calm and carry on" meme, which was originally based on a  humorous World War II propoganda poster from the UK.

It's also somewhat surprising as the memorabilia uses Google's trademarked Chrome logo with no indication that Google permitted Microsoft to use it, or even an acknowledgement that Google is the logo's owner via a trademark or copyright symbol (trademarks are generally more appropriate, although often a broad set of design features is copyrighted or even patented).

Scroogled shirt

Google in fact appears to explicitly ban this, stating:

Don't display a Google Brand Feature in a manner that is in Google's sole opinion misleading, unfair, defamatory, infringing, libelous, disparaging, obscene or otherwise objectionable to Google.

Further common sense tells you that appropriating a company's well-known logo for use in selling your products is probably intellectual property theft.  And insulting the owner while using their logo to sell your products -- that's just adding insult to injury.

A Microsoft product description states:

A vintage line, reworked to reflect a modern problem. Printed on an American Apparel 50/50 t-shirt, pre-washed for minimal shrinkage.

Breathe in, breathe out. It won’t be long before Google has attempted to make money off of every aspect of your digital life. This t-shirt lets them know that you know. It's 50% cotton, 50% polyester blend, and pre-laundered for minimal shrinkage.

Again, there's no sign of any trademarks/etc. on the store page.

Keep calm scroogled

Edgy?  Trendy?  Illegal?  IP theft?  Funny?  It appears Microsoft's new campaign may be all the above.  It wouldn't be surprising to see this one wind up in court... but Google faces a lose-lose scenario as if it does sue Microsoft it's bringing attention to its own privacy offenses and risks looking losing its "cool cred" by appearing litigious.  

After his largely failed prior attempts, it appears Mike Penn has finally crafted a scenario in which Google just can't win.  His new product line marks a significant improvement in Microsoft's efforts to troll Google, practically begging them in a legal sense -- "Come at me, bro."

It should be interesting to see if Google responds.

Sources: Microsoft, Google Logo/Trademark Policy

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Get over it
By mrwassman on 11/20/2013 9:47:05 PM , Rating: -1
People need to get over the fact that Google is trying to make money. Also, please let the "keep calm & ***** on" die already.

I am very Microsoft dependent but I'll be the first to admit they make a lot of stupid moves.

RE: Get over it
By troysavary on 11/21/2013 8:24:53 AM , Rating: 2
Nobody cares that Google is trying to make money. It is only when they break the law in the attempt to do so that fines are issued. The fines were specifically for Google stealing data over WiFi. No one is fining Google for gathering information from people using their free services. In that case, government should stay the hell out. It is up to the market to punish Google for that. If people care, they will stop using Google services. If they keep using Google services, then they have given Google a green light to use their data. I still have me gmail address, but I only use it as my Spam trap. If Google wants to harvest that junk, they are free to do so.

RE: Get over it
By Reclaimer77 on 11/21/2013 4:00:43 PM , Rating: 1
The fines were specifically for Google stealing data over WiFi.

UNSECURED routers. Let's tell the whole story.

Sorry but if you're stupid enough to not secure your router, you can't say the data was "stolen".

RE: Get over it
By themaster08 on 11/21/2013 4:26:38 PM , Rating: 3
"If you're stupid enough to not lock your doors, you can't say your belongings were stolen."

That's about as ridiculous as your comment.

RE: Get over it
By Reclaimer77 on 11/21/2013 5:48:12 PM , Rating: 2
Very poor analogy. It would be more like leaving your door unlocked as well as moving everything worth stealing to the street for anyone to come pick up.

Sorry I just have no sympathy for people who still to this day don't secure their routers. Hell they don't even bother to put an administrator password on it!

You guys are acting like Google hacked routers, a ridiculous claim. The routers were BLASTING private info in all directions for anyone to see.

RE: Get over it
By Wazza1234 on 11/21/2013 5:58:47 PM , Rating: 1
No, it would be like leaving your door unlocked. Your personal possessions are still contained within your house.

Items in the street would not be considered stolen if removed, data extracted clearly does, which is why your correction is stupid.

"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain

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