Just how much does Ask.com own the word "Ask?" Enough to have a problem with a question-and-answer site called "Askpedia," apparently. Representatives from the start-up Askpedia.com told CNET News.com that the search engine's parent company, InterActiveCorp, sent a cease-and-desist letter earlier this month, citing intellectual property violations in the name "Askpedia."
"(This) is likely to cause consumer confusion, particularly inasmuch as Askpedia purports to provide online informational services that are substantially similar to those provided by Ask," the letter dated March 13 reads. "In using and incorporating Ask's intellectual property in this manner, Askpedia is falsely suggesting a connection between Ask and Askpedia, and thereby misappropriating the substantial good will associated with Ask's trademarks."
IAC representatives were contacted to verify the contents of the cease-and-desist letter, but were not immediately available for comment.
Ask.com's trademark on the name was first filed April 28, 1999, when the company was still known as Ask Jeeves and had not yet been acquired by the Barry Diller-helmed IAC in 2005. These days, the search engine has been undergoing a restructuring process in order to handle its tepid market share.
The letter, signed by Edward T. Ferguson, IAC senior vice president and general counsel, and provided to CNET News.com by Askpedia representatives, goes on to request that Askpedia "cease and desist from all use of Ask's trademarks and other intellectual property, including without limitation in the name 'Askpedia' or any similar formation using the word 'ask,'" and agree not to do so in the future.
A deadline of 10 days was provided, meaning that IAC would presumably seek legal action after Sunday, March 23.
Yong Su Kim, CEO of Askpedia, which describes itself as "a knowledge marketplace for questions and answers" and awards cash prizes to the best answers, said that his small start-up has about 100,000 registered users. He sent an e-mail to CNET News.com in which he speculated that "our guess is that their lawyers have nothing better to do."
Kim continued, "Either that or they're working on a Wikipedia-like service and want the domain name and trademark."