ChaCha Sues HTC Over HTC ChaCha

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You could see this one coming from a couple of miles away: ChaCha, the questions and answers service provider, is suing smartphone maker HTC over trademark infringement. The lawsuit is obviously the result of HTC’s decision to name its recently unveiled ‘Facebook phone’ the ChaCha.

Sure enough, ChaCha Search, Inc., as the company is officially named, owns the ‘ChaCha’ trademark in the United States (and Europe for that matter).

ChaCha has a good case, as HTC’s branding of its new phone is sure to confuse people. After all, ChaCha has historically put a lot of focus on providing a service on mobile phones, with a mobile website and dedicated apps for iOS devices, BlackBerry and, well, Android handsets.

The lawsuit was filed last Tuesday in Indiana Southern District Court. Ironically, it was filed around the same time online payment company Xoom Corporation filed a trademark infringement suit against its rival Motorola after the latter named its new Android-based tablet computer, slated to launch in the U.S. today, the XOOM.

You have to wonder whether these hardware manufacturers don’t do enough trademark and branding research before they launch massive campaigns for products, or if they simply don’t care and deem the risk for infringement lawsuits an acceptable, calculated one.

We’ll keep an eye on how this one plays out. From where I’m searching, ChaCha.com still shows up in the first search results when I search for ‘ChaCha’, but the phone was only unveiled last week and the HTC website is already on the first page of search results, too.

The HTC ChaCha smartphone will be available to customers across major European and Asian markets during Q2 2011. In the United States, HTC said it plans to bring it to market ‘later this year’ exclusively with AT&T, probably before the end of the second quarter.

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