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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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RE: And we Thought
By rsmech on 11/21/2013 2:35:14 AM , Rating: 2
Your example of Google vs. Apple isn't the same. It's more opinion and slander. Where as there is some truth to the MS campaign. Not opinion and is truth slander?

RE: And we Thought
By ritualm on 11/21/2013 4:31:28 AM , Rating: 2
Truth... is just a matter of perspective.

RE: And we Thought
By JasonMick on 11/21/2013 11:29:50 AM , Rating: 2
Your example of Google vs. Apple isn't the same. It's more opinion and slander.

Apple hasn't sued nearly every major Android OEM ? Ha... HAHAHA... thanks, I needed a good laugh.

You're real funny buddy.

RE: And we Thought
By Wazza1234 on 11/21/13, Rating: 0
RE: And we Thought
By retrospooty on 11/21/2013 6:32:22 PM , Rating: 2
Seriously testerguy you are beyond a joke at this point. It was funny for a while now its just sad.

RE: And we Thought
By JasonMick on 11/21/2013 9:21:58 PM , Rating: 2
Your precious Android OEM's have tried to ban every iPhone and iPad so far and many have already had to drop their cases due to being under investigation.
As I said you're real funny bud. "My precious Android OEMs?" hahahaha oh man, good one. If you even marginally paid attention to my reviews pieces you'd know that I haven't owned an Android phone in nearly two years.

I have no horse in the Apple v. Android race as I'm a Windows Phone user. I'll admit Samsung's done some dirty things too... i.e. leaking court documents.

But let's face it, Samsung's goal was clearly never to copy Apple... it wanted to create something better than Apple. And it appears that more customers now appreciate it's products than Apple's... that's saying something.

And you can't give me the price excuse as you can get iPhones for very cheap these days.

But you keep telling yourself they're iPhone ripoffs.


But lest you think I "blame" Apple for everything, understand I don't... Apple is just doing what it can to maximize shareholder value. So is Samsung... so was Nokia. If anyone is "to blame" for the smartphone war's it's Nokia. But then again they are an industry pioneer and arguably have more of a justification be getting licensing fees than anyone... see the truth is complicated.

At the end of the day I wish companies would spend less time in the courts, and I support patent reform. But I don't blame Apple/Samsung/Nokia/whoever for suing each other.

I just think their suits are ridiculously silly.

RE: And we Thought
By Cheesew1z69 on 11/21/2013 9:26:19 PM , Rating: 2
And it appears that more customers now appreciate it's products than Apple's... that's saying something.
And it just eats them up inside...LOL

"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)

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