The trademark dispute between entertainment giant Walt Disney Co. and Internet start-up GoTo.com, centering on a round green logo,
was resolved Friday, with Disney agreeing to pay $21.5 million and stop
using the logo for its Go.com network.
While not a substantial amount for Disney
, which brought
in $13.24 billion in revenues in the past six months, the dough could be a
lifesaver for GoTo.com
. The smaller company lost $30.5
million in its most recent fiscal quarter, and its stock price hit a
52-week low on May 24.
GoTo.com sued Disney in February 1999 in the United States District Court
in Los Angeles, saying the green-light-shaped logo the company’s Go.com
network adopted in December was too close to the circular green logo the
pay-for-placement search engine firm has used since 1997.
On November 15, 1999, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Terry Hatter, Jr.
granted GoTo.com a preliminary injunction, which meant Disney, Infoseek and
related companies had to drop the Go.com logo.
At the time, Disney vowed to appeal the decision, but the companies
apparently reached a negotiated settlement before the actual trial date was
set. A pre-trial conference was originally scheduled for March.
The decision by Go.com to concede defeat in the battle over the
green-light logo, and adopt green lettering with a yellow arrow, marks
another twist in the story of a company that’s been rocked by turmoil and
indecision. The Go Network, a joint venture between Disney and Infoseek,
has been marked by high executive turnover, including the conviction of one
of its execs — Patrick Naughton — for crossing state lines to solicit sex
with a minor.
Strategy has shifted at Go.com, too. The company recently abandoned
ambitions of being a wide-reaching portal, and instead decided to focus on
being an entertainment destination.