Microsoft Uses T-Shirts, Mugs to Blast Google

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft has launched a new set of merchandise carrying anti-Google slogans. It's just a publicity stunt, but the blistering nature of the attacks may land Microsoft in legal trouble.

The merchandise is the latest step in Microsoft's "Don't get Scroogled" campaign. That term, a mix of "screwed" and "Google", is Microsoft's way of arguing that its rival has a much more aggressive approach to using customer data for its own means.

The campaign has largely centered on the fact that Google scans messages sent through its Gmail service and then uses the content to produce relevant advertising. For example, somebody getting an email from a friend looking to arrange a game of golf might see an advertisement for a company that produces golf clubs or golf balls.

Gmail Scanning Under Fire

Generally speaking, it's an unpopular policy. Some users have threatened legal action, claiming that even if Gmail users give permission for such scanning through the terms and conditions of the service, Google doesn't have such permission from non-users who send email messages to Gmail customers.

Microsoft has also argued that Google's online shopping search tool gives biased results that are determined by whether retailers pay them a fee, rather than whether they are most relevant to a query.

Microsoft's new Don't Get Scroogled merchandise includes a coffee mug with the Google Chrome logo and the caption "Keep Calm While We Steal Your Data". It's a play on those popular British government posters that read "Keep Calm and Carry On". (Source:

There's also a t-shirt with the slogan "Scroogled" written in the same multi-colored lettering and typeface as the official Google logo. The shirt also bears a list of synonyms such as "scammed" and "conned." (Source:

Use of Google Logo Could Spell Trouble

While it's clearly a publicity stunt, Microsoft may be on dangerous ground. For one, using the Google Chrome logo without permission could be a problem. There's also a risk that directly accusing Google of stealing data or scamming customers could be considered libelous.

It's likely Microsoft is betting Google won't want to risk launching a very public legal fight over the issue. Such action could mean a lengthy court case that examines Google's privacy policies in detail and brings even more attention to Microsoft's claims.

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