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A King Kong Lawsuit Filed Against Google Over Giant, Inflatable Blue Gorillas

Ever seen one of those giant blue gorillas at a car dealership? It looks like someone at Google may have, as using a similar image in an ad for Google AdWords has now gotten Google sued.

Eric Goldman has the legal rundown of the case here, but as they say, a picture’s worth a 1,000 words.

Here’s an example of the giant inflatable gorillas made by Sherba Industries, the company behind Inflatable Images. Here’s an image right out of the lawsuit:

And here’s the Google ad in question, also from the lawsuit:

They look the same to me. It’s hard to imagine that someone at Google behind that ad wasn’t thinking of the Sherba gorilla, much less working off an image of one.

As Goldman points out, Google might not have realized there were copyrights granted to inflatable gorillas:

One possibility: it never occurred to Google that any manufacturer of inflatable gorillas would claim a copyright over the product design. That’s not exactly intuitive.

That’s what the suit is about, whether Google violated Sherba’s copyright by using the image. Goldman suspects that the usage is so inconsequential that a judge might dismiss an infringement claim.

The suit seeks to prevent Google from using the gorilla image and the maximum amount of statutory damages allowed, which seems likely to be in the thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars, not millions.

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