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Doogle up for copyright battle with Google

world Updated: Nov 16, 2012 01:22 IST
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One is among the world's most powerful corporations, a behemoth with a market capitalisation of $250bn.

The other is a loss-making website owned by a school dropout on a computer bought from a pawn shop for $68. It's Google vs Doogle.

The unlikely duel has come about after a young South African entrepreneur received a letter threatening legal action because his site's name and logo are too similar to Google's.

Andries Maree Van Der Merwe, who turns 23 this week, vowed to fight all the way in what his lawyer describes as a "David and Goliath" contest.

Van Der Merwe, from Middelburg in Mpumalanga province, set up Doogle after dropping out of school at 16 to look for a job. It was while working as a newspaper vendor that he hit upon the idea of a site to help the unemployed.

"I sold newspapers on street corners and people told me what was wrong," he recalled. "They wanted a place where they go to find a job."

Van Der Merwe found an investor and, in January 2011, registered, a site that allows jobseekers to upload their details for free and search online directories.

"The name just popped into my head. I said, 'That's the name I'm going for - people will remember it.' I searched domain names and it was available."

Unlike Google's sprawling campus in California's Silicon Valley, Doogle is run on a shoestring. "When I got a letter from Google's lawyers, all I could do was smile," he said. "I didn't expect it but I'm not going to get negative. I'm feeling good because I know the law is with me. I'm still young. I have nothing to lose. I'm starting to be successful. If they want to take me to court, I will go all the way."

Guardian News Service