Citing the federal trademark statute as well as California law, GoTo.com is asking Disney and Infoseek to discontinue their use of the current Go Network logo. The company alleges that the logo's use of a green circle on a yellow background with the word "GO" appearing in white at the center is too similar to GoTo.com's green circle on yellow background with "GO" and "TO" in the center. In addition, GoTo.com claims the fonts are also the same.
Today's action comes after four weeks of "goodwill" discussions between the two companies, GoTo.com president and chief executive Jeffrey Brewer said. Brewer said that his company notified Disney shortly after seeing the Go Network logo during its beta release. But after discussions for Go Network to change its logo fell through, Brewer said he had no choice but to let a judge decide.
"We hate to go the course of taking this to a judge, but unfortunately it's the only option that Disney has left us with, and we'll do anything to protect our rights," said Brewer.
"We haven't seen the complaint, we've seen the press release," said Infoseek spokesman Doug Free. "Based on the press release, we think the claims are baseless. Disney secured the rights to the Go Network logo, and we will defend our rights vigorously."
Go Network is Disney's pet project that integrates a number of Disney-owned Web properties, such as ESPN and ABCNews, with Infoseek's search engine and portal offerings. The project is Disney's attempt to trump Internet heavyweights such as Yahoo and AOL by leveraging its copyright-protected content and offline brand as well as offering free email and other features users have come to expect from portals. This "destination site" approach is being adopted by other entertainment and media players, such as Warner Bros.
Since the Go Network's launch, Disney has been including its logo in many ABC and ESPN programs.
As previously reported, observers noted before the Go Networks launch that the commonality of the name "Go" could pose problems for Disney, especially with GoTo.com, which was founded in 1997.
Brewer said the Go Network logo has caused a number of confusing situations among consumers and investors.
"I've had investors call me and say, 'I didn't know you were running television ads,'" he said.
Brewer added that even Disney itself has mistaken the logos.
"ESPN called one of our media buyers and asked if we'd like to buy advertisements on their site," said Brewer. "The kicker was when this person said we'd get the Disney family rate."