Google demands 9to5Google change their name, then walks it back

Seth Weintraub, writing for 9to5Google:

At around noon today, our ads stopped working. They run through both Google’s Doubleclick/Ad Exchange network and Adsense. We’ve had a long and fruitful relationship with Google’s ads department, so when these type of issues do come up every few months, a few panicked calls and emails to the account rep of the moment can fix things. (And because our network does well into 6 figures/month, if we are vigilant we usually get to talk to a human!)

But this time was different. We have learned that Google’s Public Policy Team has decided that, after 5 years of publishing under the 9to5Google name, we have been violating their trademark. Sure we’re on Google+, News, Apps, Ads and just about everything else Google as 9to5Google but I guess something changed.

We are a news site dedicated to covering Google, not trying to masquarade as Google, so we’re appealing this decision (and if you know anyone at Google please have them run this up the ladder). But there is a big chance we’ll have to change our name.

From Google’s email, notifying them of the decision:

I want to start by apologizing for the abrupt and confusing way that this issue was brought to your attention. This has been really frustrating – for both of us – as these issues are normally communicated internally in advance so that I am able to give you warning and clarify the issue. As you know, that did not happen in this case, and I apologize for that.

My Team Lead (—-, CC’d here) and I had a lengthy conversation about why this happened immediately and without an internal warning. Evidently, because this is a legal trademark violation, the policy team is required to act immediately. We still expected there to be a notification from our Policy Team, and we’re sorry on behalf of their team that it was not communicated more clearly.

With that said, we were not able to argue an appeal for this violation since it’s an explicit policy in the AdSense Ts&Cs. This was my first time encountering this violation, so I had assumed I could make a case for appeal, but it’s actually coming from the Legal Trademark team, above the Policy Team, and there isn’t any grey area for us to make an appeal.

Lots of drama and upheaval, terribly handled and, in my opinion, terribly unfair.

Then, suddenly, this from Google:

Our Policy Team has taken another look at this and decided to reinstate ad serving to your site. No further action is needed.

The mind reels. Glad this got resolved, but what a terrible way to conduct business.