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Ask HN: Google won't remove my site URL from random business using it on Maps
297 points by federicoponzi 25 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 135 comments
Hello HN, I have a personal CS blog named X. When you search for X on google, on the right side, it will show a business located somewhere, with that very same name X. This business is for helping people for computer problems. They're even showing my website url.

If you search for the X business name on official channels, it doesn't exists obviously. I've tried to have at least my website removed from the listing, but fun fact my removal request is handled by the listing owner itself. I've contacted Google directly, the answer was along the lines of the following:

> We don't care if the business is using your website name and your url, we are just showing information. If you want to get the website removed please contact the owner of that listing.

What makes me angry is that I legally hold the mark name in europe. It's possible to check my name on the whois of that website. And there is no way for me to get that sh*t removed. What's also incredible, is that people will need to do all the verification crap for singing on adsense, but everyone can put every website in the listing with no verification and no one can't do anything about that.

What is even worst is that business will be associated with myself, and my users might call that business thinking to be speaking with me. And a business showing false information doesn't seems a business to trust. I've also explicitly talked about this, but Google didn't care.

Please HN. Tell me what to do.




It sounds like someone is impersonating you on Google’s services, you put Google on notice you are being impersonated (your Mark infringed) and as a result you are suffering (legal) damages and google’s official response acknowledges this and simultaneously says they have no duty to prohibit infringement of your mark on their services and they have no duty to provide accurate information to their end users/the public.

In other words in the old phone book days, imagine if you were to list your business in the phone book but next to your business was a competitors phone number so they get all your business...you put the phone book on notice and they just say sorry we have no duty to provide accurate information.

Many have said get a lawyer to send a letter...that’s a waste of time while you will continue to be damaged. Get a lawyer to file a small claims case for damages and injunction. A few benefits: 1) you could probably get a lawyer to do it on contingency (no out of pocket expenses for you, they would get a % of damages if and only if they win); 2) small claims cases can often fly under the radar of big companies and so maybe as soon as 20 days after filing you get a default judgment; 3) if the do respond a small claims case means 1 thing to them, their attorney’s fees will exceed your damages so they will probably look into it and resolve it; 4) if they want to fight it (which would be stupid if your claims are legit) small claims are extremely expedited, typically there is no formal discovery and it’s just a pretrial (where the parties will be encouraged to settle) and then a trial (possibly a mandatory mediation at pretrial or at the court on the day of the trial).


Can you get an injunction through small claims? I was under the impression (in the US at least) that this is not generally possible.


Your impression isn’t wrong, it is a jurisdictional issue, but let’s say you are right generally; however, it’s law so:

Consider small claims handle most evictions, your impression would be right an eviction isn’t an “injunction”, but what is an eviction in practice if not an enjoining the tenant from continued possession and an order to vacate a property.

This case might just seek relief in the form of a monetary judgement In the complaint, but in practice what is that judgement but an injunction/order for google to stop any continued act causing damages.

As I noted at pretrial the parties are encouraged by the court to settle and usually at pretrial/trail the parties do a mandatory mediation (again that is jurisdictional but either way statistically Over 90% of cases will settle). In practice these settlement agreements will typically reflect additional terms such as agreement to stop engaging in X or otherwise continuing any act that damages the party as outlined in the complaint, and terms denying admission for any of the claims as outlined in the complaint.

In practice image it playing out where the damaged party here gets an award for monetary damages against google and Google pays but they allow the impersonating “business” on google maps to continue to Impersonate the the damaged party by associating the website/marks with the impersonating business. Google may play the nameless, faceless corporation with no decision makers, but to don’t let them fool you. I personally imagine this thread hitting the front page Here gets google to do something.


Thanks, that’s very helpful.


> It sounds like [...]

It does indeed. Except the actual details are scant to nonexistant, and as others are pointing out the paraphrased "response" from Google just doesn't sound right. Google gets IP violation reports like this all the time. Clearly they have some kind of appropriate canned response that notes why they feel they aren't liable and not the "We're totally guilty!" phrasing we read above.

My guess is this is more complicated than the OP is letting on.


Google has repeatedly shown itself to be abysmal at fulfilling service requests and obeying relevant laws until they are forced to do so. I don't know why you'd qassume bad faith here on the part of this user instead of google, given the very extensive public history of google failing at customer service (and they have nothing to gain but publicity which may get their issue resolved).


In my experience, outside of engineering, most people at Google are surprisingly incompetent at their jobs. I absolutely would not assume Google knows what they're doing - in fact, at this point, I tend to assume Google has no idea what they're doing.

This is based on interacting with a couple dozen people though, so it is a small sample size.


From direct personal experience, they do not reliably have processes in place to deal with their legal obligations. We had YouTube DMCA issues for a while, and getting past their standard forms to deal with persistent offenders was difficult to the point where I would have expected to win a lawsuit, though as it turned out we found a way to go after the uploader directly and that was a quicker way to solve that particular problem.


Here's a hack. Use the referral header or url tracking parameters to redirect the URL to some place seedy or maybe their competitor. I'm sure they'll change it quick after that.


Since OP thinks it could be a scammer doing it, perhaps just check the referral header and display a big banner stating that listing on Maps is not you and to not contact them and list real services/competitors?

Will stop people from contacting them in favour of real businesses if that's the case.


I agree that this is better, it punishes Google's reputation as well.


This is beautifully malicious.

It's 100% within his rights as the website owner, and it will highly encourage those who can change this to do so.

I love it.


Eye for an eye is a bad advice when there are more peaceful, not yet tried alternatives. It's not like they are pointed a gun and the only escape is shooting back.

I respect the opinion though, so not down-voting you.


No. Google is not someone that can be peacefully dealt with. They figuratively don't have ears for that.


Nice idea but it won’t work. Traffic from google maps shows up as direct traffic with no referrer.


  <script>
    window.history.back();
  </script>


The name of http header is "Referer", you can't rely on that though. I'm wondering if Google allows that at all in 2020.


> redirect the URL to some place seedy

Preferably one that won't hurt a young kid that accidentally clicks on it I presume?


> redirect the URL to some place seedy

That business can potentially claim damages.


They can claim them but I very much doubt they'd win in court - "we're infringing someone's Trademark and impersonating them on Google and they redirected traffic on their own website and that redirection is harming our ability to fraudulently profit from their trademark" ... kinda like suing someone you murdered because they made your knife messy.


The OP would still suffer expenses defending the messy knife claim in court. If the bad actor has deeper pockets, this would be just one more way for the bad guy to continue being a bad actor


No they can't. I mean they can, but you can literally sue anyone for anything. Doesn't mean you're right or entitled to compensation of any kind, especially in this case. In fact, the owner of the website (OP) can sue the listing "owner" and Google and probably get something, but it's not proportional to the effort and wasted time + money.


I'm concerned that this is being downvoted, and that people in this thread are giving legal advice without any caveat or mention of country, state, etc.


Could you please share the exact answer you got from Google support?

You can definitely report false information on a listing, so I don't understand how they'd tell you "We don't care if the business is using your website name."

You could suggest an edit that removes your website from that place: https://support.google.com/maps/answer/7084895

Or even better, report that the place doesn't exist in the first place. https://support.google.com/maps/answer/3094088?co=GENIE.Plat...


Note also the 'remove business for legal reasons' option. I imagine these get priority, and trademark violation and fraudulent misrepresentation is a legal reason.


I cannot update my post anymore, but I already wrote it in another reply. The edit suggestions goes directly to the business owner. They can accept / deny the update request. I've also asked friends and colleagues to ask for the same edit and to report the listing as non existent but nothing happened.

The answer from the Google support I'm referring to in my post, is from a legal request I've sent to them.

This is the full response in Italian (this is the reason why I didn't attach it to the post):

    Gentile Sig.

    La ringraziamo per il suo messaggio.

    Le facciamo presente che Google è un fornitore di informazioni, non un mediatore. Forniamo informazioni su luoghi, attività commerciali e altre informazioni relative ad una particolare parola di ricerca di ricerca, ma non rivendichiamo alcun diritto sulle etichette associate a tali contenuti. Per ulteriori informazioni, la invitiamo a consultare i nostri Termini di servizio all'indirizzo https://www.google.com/policies/terms/. Per questioni riguardanti il marchio, la preghiamo di rivolgersi direttamente al proprietario della scheda o del luogo in questione. Se il proprietario dei contenuti in questione decide di modificare eventuali informazioni in seguito alla tua richiesta, tale modifica si rifletterà nella scheda la prossima volta che i robot di Google eseguono la scansione del relativo materiale di origine.

    Se ritiene che informazioni personali come il suo numero di telefono vengano visualizzate nei risultati di ricerca relativi a un'attività o a una località, può segnalare il problema tramite Google Maps seguendo le istruzioni riportate in questa pagina: https://support.google.com/business/answer/6163683

    Cordiali saluti,
    Il team di Google

Please notice that Sig. doesn't include my name in the email I've received.

This is google translate:

    We would like to point out that Google is an information provider, not a broker. We provide information about places, businesses, and other information related to a particular search word, but we do not claim any rights on the labels associated with that content. For further information, please consult our Terms of Service at https://www.google.com/policies/terms/. For trademark issues, please contact the owner of the listing or location directly. If the owner of the content in question decides to change any information following your request, this change will be reflected in the tab the next time Google's robots scan its source material.

    If you believe that personal information such as your phone number appears in search results for an activity or location, you can report the problem via Google Maps by following the instructions on this page:


Since the business listing is fake and your website/blog is real can you contact Google and claim that you are the actual owner of the business and this person has fraudulently claimed it?


Since he owns the trademark and (according to his other answers) the business doesn't seem to be legitimate, or even located in the address, that's what I would do as well.


I don't think this is the "correct" path. Google should be more open to requests, and try to be more understanding on users' requests.

Anyway, as I wrote in another comment the person behind this is either a normal person using his home address or someone working for another company located at that address.

This means that Google has assigned the ownership to him already. I couldn't find any way for requesting the ownership to the entry, but only a "ask the owner access to this entry" page.

Also, a business might exists in that address, but it's certainly not called like my blog.


Do you operate the blog as an individual? Meaning you don’t have any sort of business entity involved? If so maybe you could report a case of identity theft to your local police department and then send Google the police report via certified mail to their legal department along with a letter asking them to correct the information.


"Google should be more open to requests"

I thought google didn't really have any customer support or any humans involved in most things. It was all automated systems built by software engineers for the most part.


> I couldn't find any way for requesting the ownership to the entry, but only a "ask the owner access to this entry" page

Pretty sure that's the link your looking for if you want owner's access to the entry.

It probably is your fastest and best path forward.


Sorry, I really meant to write "ask the current owner to get access to this entry". Meaning that I would need to ask the current owner to allow me to access the entry.


It sounds like you are the trademark holder and know the address of the offending business in question. Any lawyer should be able to compose a suitable nastygram to send to that business quickly and cheaply.


I am the holder of the trademark, but I'm not sure it will be that easy unfortunately. The issue is that according to my research, there are no tech business located at that address. So maybe it's a private person or someone working in other businessess at that address. Also, since I have a feeling that there is a scammer behind this, I'm not sure if a robber will care about this kind of threaten. Of course it might be worth a shot, but I think it's incredible that google is allowing these kind of things to happen leaving users powerless. And I'm also kind of lucky because I hold the trademark (something valued zero at google, but it might help me getting out of this) but think about people not even knowing their website is associated to other businessess.


You're probably right. They would only be infringing your trademark if they were doing business in the same category of goods and services. What they're doing sounds much more like some kind of defamation than any kind of trademark infringement. But if they're criminals they probably don't care much about the possibility of a civil action.

Google Maps are rubbish. In my experience they don't even show streets in the right place. When you're ordering something you can always write in the "delivery instructions" something like: "Don't use Google; try openstreetmap.org instead." Then, if they turn up an hour late somewhat grumpy: "I did warn you!"


The occasions when GMaps tries to send you up or down a steep, long flight of stairs on you bike are also annoying.


In my city OpenStreetMap is much better for cycleways.


What app do you use for OSM?


I use OSMand, can't speak for parent commenter though.


Maps.me. Offline, and much nicer experience than OSMand.


> In my experience they don't even show streets in the right place.

The map editing link / tools have been made much more prominent and accessible over the last year or two. I've moved done streets in my town and the experience was fairly painless.


Better to spend that time contributing to OSM, no?


I'm doing both. It's not an exclusive choice.


It's not a data problem, they just literally do not display street names sometimes, even when it's the only road on the screen.


That's not "map editing", it's some half-assed attempt that at best allows you to modify some minor details of map listings. It is absolutely pathetic compared to the features of OSM map editor and the map editor GMaps had. You can't even now enter a place's name in three local languages for f* sake.


> Google Maps are rubbish

It's IMHO because no longer can users properly edit maps. It's now only poor crowdsourced+automagical judgement of minor changes.

There's a post office closed for a year or so now that literally can't be removed, Google thinks it's correct and edits get autorejected. It's incredibly stupid.


I have mentioned this before and mentioning again hoping someone from google will read. Google support literally sucks or they don't know how to do business at all. People are willing to pay for support, so someone at google can listen. But that option is also not available. These days hacker news is only way to get attention from Google.

Another example, recently I tried to connect my blog with google ad-sense ( I bought domain from google and also using g-suite). THis is the response I got,

Some of our services are temporarily experiencing delays during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This means that we’re unable to review your site at this time. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your patience.

Ok I got it. I can understand current situation. But com'n guys at least have courtesy to update me when your services are up. Do you wanna apply me again and again ? If I do, you will mark me as spam. These guys never return a single note on any feedback. What do you want me to do ?


I mean Google kinda proved that good support is not necessary, why would they invest into it? (effective) Monopolies 101, right?


I don't think this is accurate, I've been through trademark requests with Google and it has always worked out before lawyers need to be involved. It does take time and you have to rattle a few bells but there are procedures in place.

The best advice I can give you, if/when you talk to a real person at Google and they are not helpful, just hang-up and try again until you find someone who can help you.


Maybe it's because of the covid situation, but if you read the content of the email they sent to me (I've posted it in another comment) I probably didn't even have the chance to talk with a real human being. This is why I've reached out to HN. Hopefully I eventually be able to talk with someone though, thanks for the advice.


You can probably just check the referrer header and display a giant nag message to people coming from that business listing.

"This website is not associated with company X which have been misrepresenting themselves by linking to my site from their maps listing."


Thanks for the suggestion but:

1. I would need to do that for every referral from google, something which I would avoid.

2. Users might not click on the link and still think we're related.

Also, the very same listing is showing facebook and twitter links on which I cannot do much about.


You could also treat probes from google's address space differently, perhaps if you return 404s they'll automatically delist it.


It's bad luck to return something different to GoogleBot than what regular people see.


Fascinating use of language. Superstition implies belief in fate / deity.

It doesn't surprise to see this written now, even if only ironically. "The algorithm cannot be understood by anyone" - which is a fact. So we summon the fates to describe its expected behaviour.

If this comment seems personal, that wasn't intended. I really don't know how people in SEO tend to communicate. But I just heard this kind of language for the first time. So it's just a sign of the times.

More like this to come. Surely.


Showing different content to Google and visitors is genuinely against Google's webmaster guidelines. It will get you delisted. It's known as cloaking.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloaking

https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/66355?hl=en


>> It's bad luck to return something different to GoogleBot than what regular people see.

It's [against policy] to return something different to GoogleBot than what regular people see.

The facts are on your side, but GP's language choice remains interesting. Not right now perhaps, but down the road?


I can't tell if this is a bit where you play the oblivious pedant, or if you can't tell they were referring to this policy. Either way, I don't think they were suggesting some cosmic influence.


@Kye No pedantry from here. I had already understood the policy. So this comment wasn't about the policy, it was all about the language. You seem to wish to understand, so ...

It was a pretty wide tangent from the start. I imagine (perhaps incorrectly) that it may eventually become common for people to understand algorithm-lore as say the Runes were once understood. I interpreted the language used here as a harbinger.


Google also sends google-bot without the header. If it notices different content it will take the public version as truth.

So many people are doing this but not getting delisted. Not sure how solid a rule it still is.


I am vouching for this comment. The choice of words seems interesting to me too. You don't have to agree with it but I do not see any sign of commenting in bad faith - I think this comment should be unflagged.


I think the mistake was "Superstition implies belief in fate / deity." After reading the whole thing, I guess what they probably meant was dry linguisting commentary, but on first glance it looks like they're saying the person they're replying to is irrational.


Noted.


This is a mistake I used to make. It's fun to pull apart language, but to the person whose language is being analysed, it often feels like mockery. It's important to make it 100% crystal clear your fun analysis isn't about the person. Make it clear it's an aside by focusing on the point before moving on to the postscript with a clear topic shift.


>> It's important to make it 100% crystal clear your fun analysis isn't about the person.

>> If this comment seems personal, that wasn't intended.

That wasn't an edit, it was in my first commit. 100% Crystal clear?

I appreciate you're trying to help but, in doing so please don't belittle my comment as "fun analysis". Though it mightn't have come over perfectly, I meant it. And it's important. To me at least.


You're being too literal about it. I was referring to the policy.


It ain't superstition, it's humor. It's how I sometimes say "you don't want to do that."


If you try to trick Google Bot different, they find it a punish your site.


Not really, redirection from Maps might show a different referral than from Search (you have to test that but it should be pretty trivial to do)

Trademarks are a bit more complicated as the issue of brand confusion and geographical areas are involved.

But you could always try to contact a lawyer in the area of that company and ask them to write a strong worded letter directly to the business.


You said that it is showing twitter and fb links. Are you sure this is google maps listing and not a knowledge graph entry? Those are two different things.


Yep, it's google maps listing. I think that twitter and fb links are scraped by Google though, but the listing is definitely a google maps entry. The owner of the thing is even answering the reviews.


OK, so your best bet is to use the Redressal form, Google has it here: https://support.google.com/business/contact/business_redress...


I just checked and the referrer from the 'Website' button on business listings only sends the google.com top domain with no tracking parameters.


You might be able to claim the business. If they are using your info you should be able to verify ownership and take over the listing.


> You might be able to claim the business. If they are using your info you should be able to verify ownership and take over the listing.

Verification of ownership is done via snail mail to the business address.


When I claimed a business it let me pick between that or an email to any email box on the domain for the site in question.

But I'll defer on that not being an option all the time since it's not my area of expertise.


I'm assuming that you already tried contacting the listing owner and they haven't been cooperative.

The easiest thing to do would be to make them want to remove your website. At the top of your main page put a little note saying something like "If you're searching for <foo business> in <location> we're not them. Please click here." Then, since they don't have a website you can send users to a page that explains the situation, suggests that they may want to do business with a more reputable company, and provide links and phone numbers to their local competitors.

Alternatively, if you don't care about your websites reputation, you could just fill it with porn, popups, or other content that users won't expect or want from a business.


Clever, but unlikely to work. The business owner probably won't ever check or know about these things.


I think you underestimate people's desire to complain about things. If the website pops up a dozen new windows full of porn that autoplays with audio I guarantee someone will call the business to let them know.


As a Google search user (just like everyone else) stories like this make me wonder about the accuracy of all the data Google displays. Loads of people claim Google search is terrible. Is Google actually still good at understanding the information on the web these days, or are they just riding the reputation they build a decade ago?


I stopped using Google 2 or 3 years ago because the search quality is really bad and it “helpfully” corrected many search terms to be not what I was searching for at all. It’s not really a good search engine anymore.


Sadly even DDG does this for me now. The other day I searched for 'gradle get environment variable'. DDG 'helpfully' corrected it, saying "showing results for gradle set environment variable", with a smaller text link below essentially saying "search what I actually asked for".

It took me a while to spot that while wondering why most of the results are not relevant. Internet search just doesn't feel very good in general these days.

I mean, that's not really an appropriate place to be second guessed by a computer.


Unfortunately, we software developers are unusually precise with language. I'm sure that Google (and now DDG) get better results on average. But yes, I spend an awful lot of times strategically adding quote marks to Google searches that at one point would have just worked.


I think that’s the core of the problem. With strong googlefu you used to be able to find what you wanted if it existed. Google have made search far easier; for imprecise searches the top few hits are probably going to be what I want. But if I need something precise, Google can’t help me anymore, no matter what arcane set of search terms, symbols, and flags I use.

I also wish Google would detect when one page and another page are just the same content with different wrappers. You see this a lot with multiple sites that re post mailing list conversations. Google will not only return all the different sites, but will return replies, etc. as if they are unique results. So your entire first page can be a single conversation that just happens to be plastered all over the internet.


This began the day google decided that quotes were no longer an instruction to ignore pages without the exact sequence of characters that were between those quotes, but instead a tag indicating that the part of the search in quotes couldn't be silently discarded as if you hadn't typed it.

I've always suspected that this was actually a way to reduce their database size and simplify calculations (i.e. reduce costs and response time) rather than a way to make non-expert searches more forgiving. Non-experts weren't using quotes, and when they were, they meant them to be literal.

> I also wish Google would detect when one page and another page are just the same content with different wrappers.

I've never quite understood this. I consider it an abdication from even the attempt to be a useful, complete search engine, and the indication of a change in company direction.

Incidentally, DDG (my SE of choice) isn't much better at this stuff. Lots of repetitive listings of the same copy as top listings, and I think it stems quoted stuff. I'm forgiving because I think most of its results are derived from the results of larger indexes that adopted google's style.


There's an inherent tension between search and interpretation of terms.

Searching is most valuable when something is hard to find. If it's hard to find, then there's no way around being precise.

Correcting for sloppy queries only works when there are a limited number of things to look for and everyone is looking for one of those.

Making it easy for 90% of people to find 90% of the things they ask is in conflict with the ability for anybody to find the things which aren't easy to find in the first place. Leading, maybe, to those things effectively getting eliminated from the internet.


I've experienced Google disregarding quotes lately. It's been quite frustrating.


My favourite case of this was when I searched for how to accomplish something specific in nginx and Google decided that the word apache is a synonym to nginx, giving me results for apache instead (even after I've put nginx within quotes).

Would've preferred if it showed me "no results" instead.


foobar "nginx" -apache

Should do the trick


Lately in the results page it displays boxes with what it thinks is the answer to your question (e.g. if you search for 'maximum temperature of Intel CPU' it'll give you a number, with a link to the page it got it from). Those are very often extremely wrong for even slightly complex queries. Would be funny if I didn't see so many people blindly trusting those results.


it's called a knowledge card and yes, I've witnessed many people for whom the search process stops after reading it. The knowledge card definitely adds legitimacy in many folks' minds, nevermind that Google scraped it off some kook anti vax website or whatever.


I don't like Google domination and regularly trying to use other engines. So far Google just miles ahead of everyone else.

I don't know whether Google is good at understanding or not, but it's much better than other alternatives. At least for my queries.


I had a run in with a client who kept sending me packages that I didn't receive. Turns out she was using the address listed in the automated Google info box for my business - something I had no hand in, and which was incorrect. It looked ostensibly like my address, but was fundamentally not.

Obviously it would have been better had she used the address listed on my website, or indeed the signature of every email I've sent her for the past few years, but she's a human, so allowed to make her own mistakes.

I'm not sure I'm comfortable with Google making mistakes on my behalf however...


Exactly. As a search engine, directing to primary sources they are still doing ok (though I’ve switched mostly to DDG). The Knowledge stuff they surface now above flaunts often inaccurate or sub-par information as truth above organic results containing the primary sources.


Have you tried marking the listing as "Spam, fake, or offensive"? (Under the "Mark as close or remove" menu). Those are treated specially, they don't go to the owner. Assuming of course that you know for a fact that the listing does not exist. (You might want somebody else to do it if your recent edits were rejected.)


As I said elsewhere, yes I did. I've asked colleagues and friends to report it as spam but it didn't help apparently.


That's surprising. The only other suggestion I have is to create a new listing on Maps with your website, a service-area listing where you don't have to provide a public address, but you still need to give Google some contact info in order to verify it. And then hope that -- over time -- Google ranks yours first when searching for that name.


Is it, though? I assume they tried to reach out to him, and he just said "no I'm real and not spam thanks bye".

WRT your second suggestion, I disregard that option because:

1. Even though I own the trademark, I'm not selling anything. I wanted to own the trademark to avoid these kind of situation from happening.

2. IMO It's just not fair that I have to challange a scammer in this race, since he doesn't even have the right to be there in the first place. Google should just fix their broken process.


>>1. Even though I own the trademark, I'm not selling anything. I wanted to own the trademark to avoid these kind of situation from happening.

I'm not a lawyer, but my layperson's understanding of trademarks is that filing and owning it also bears the responsibility of defending it. When trademark challenges are left unchallenged, the trademark you own becomes more likely to be further impinged on in the future (i.e. you must show a history of maintaining and challenging other claims). This is the flipside of David vs. Goliath horror stories where large companies go after small business owners or individuals -- they're defending their trademark.

In this case, you might be able to argue deliberate trademark tarnishment[1] as a form of trademark dilution[2]; not sure if it will help but worth thinking about legal options now if this bothers you this much.

[1] https://www.inta.org/TrademarkBasics/FactSheets/Pages/Tradem...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trademark_dilution#Blurring_an...


not to be cynical, but I LOL'd at your 2. Google should just do a lot of things. However, they will only do things as long as those things make them money. Ignoring the problem costs them nothing, fixing will cost them.


Post 'illegal' content on your website and send them a DMCA haha. Fight bullshit with more bullshit.


Talk to a lawyer. Probably they will write a nasty letter to the appropriate party. Nasty letters from lawyers tend to get respected.


I have the same thought, send them a physical letter. Since they're on Google Maps OP already has their postal address!


If Google wonders why antitrust action is inevitable, The complete lack of customer service for free services is going to cause it.


"They're even showing my website url."

...

"Use the referral header or url tracking parameters to redirect the URL to some ..."

...

I just searched this comment thread for the string "goat" and got nothing.

Come on! Where is the fun ?! Where did it go ?!


Google's behavior is that of a monopolist. Now that there is no competitive pressures, they simply ignore legitimate requests to save money.

Google needs to be broken up and competition introduced again in this space. If Google Maps or Google Search didn't rely on the revenues from Google Ads, they would take things like this more seriously because they would need the revenues.

This happens tens of thousands of times per day, and the fact that they can ignore this is because they have a monopoly and they are abusing their monopoly position.


Or if Google Maps results weren’t presented as facts in Search over organic results containing first party information, this would not happen and other companies would have a chance to get more viewers and ad revenue themselves.


In the United States, you can sue John Doe (the anonymous party who created the listing) for identity fraud and trademark abuse, and then file a discovery motion compelling Google to divulge their identity so that they can be identified and prosecuted by the court, with your lawyer optionally noting to the court that Google removing the domain from the other entity as you originally requested (and paying your court costs and lawyer fees as damages, as they were notified of the fraud and refused to act) would be an acceptable settlement.

In the United Kingdom, you can sue Google for libel, as their misrepresentation of someone else as you harms you, and if you prove malice ('reckless disregard for the truth', which Google is clearly demonstrating) you can not only compel Google to remove the libelous material but also win damages from Google for their flagrant disregard for the truth.

What jurisdiction are you in?


While redirecting or displaying something based on the referrer is a cool concept, it won’t work. Referring traffic from google maps shows up as direct traffic unless yiu specifically add tracking code, which the OP can’t do.

The only way to deal with this is to get the listing removed. Use The google my business redressal form to do that.


I understand your frustration, but I don't think you're giving a complete picture. I did a quick 5 minute search on the internet to figure out what the website in question was, and it's the Italian equivalent of itlab.com (as in IT Lab), which is a bit generic to say the least. The business in question appears to be an actual business, but with a somewhat different name, and which is, actually, what could reasonably called and IT lab, as in a computer repair / network installer / small time website developer shop.

Searching on Google for your website name, including the TLD, does not yield the business result, only searching for the equivalent of "itlab".

All in all it seems to me like Google should remove the business suggestion for that search, but I don't think it's as clear-cut as you put it.


I think the OP intentionally didn't identify their website for privacy reasons. Don't you feel like this comment is kind of doxxing them?


He link to his personal website in his HN profile, and in his personal website he prominently links to the blog we're talking about. I thought about it and it really didn't feel like doxxing.


Based on your HN profile, I assume the blog you mean is https://blog.informaticalab.com/. When I search for "informaticalab" on Google (US) I do indeed see a business result, but it doesn't have a URL on it (any more). The Facebook and Twitter links seem to be legit, although obviously the address and telephone may be dubious.

The business has reviews that suggests there is actually some IT consultation or support business there, is it possible they are actually operating under your name? Have you tried calling the number associated?


The URL for the Maps "website" link presently (1249 Pacific, June 20) points at rubyschool.us , which has text in cyrillic. It's an odd choice, but not impossible, for a "Computer Consultant" in the suburbs of Naples.

Rubyschool claims to be located in San Francisco here, though: https://github.com/rubyschool-us


I don't know if it was a good idea showing the link in the comments, since OP clearly didn't want their business mentioned.

I understand anyone could've done what you did, but that means that they would have to care enough to actually go looking through OP's profile and them finding out the name would be deliberate and not just plainly advertised for anyone.


It makes it really hard to understand the issue without seeing it firsthand. For the community to dig into the issue effectively, pretty much need to see it in order to suggest solutions.

I reached the same conclusion as @advisedwang by following OP's profile information.


If it's in your profile it is plainly advertised to everyone.


Bad publicity on a major news site seems to be a major Google support channel. So you're halfway there; had you included names in this post you'd have a chance at that avenue.


I'm not sure if this would help, but have you considered trying to add Local Business metadata to the site that Google can pick up?

It's possible that it'd overwrite the other business entry, or you might be able to report the business as a duplicate. At the very least, you might end up with both showing up stacked instead of just the one so you might reduce how many people interact with the fraudulent listing.


Please consider adding instructions for reproducing the issue to this thread. E.g. what's the name of the business that's using your URL, and what's your URL? Without such instructions it's much harder for others on HN, or from Google, to help.


Did you get a closure on this ? You can also use this form to file a request. https://support.google.com/business/gethelp


what is the name of the listing? i am a google guide and by some mysterious google power, whenever changes i make get approved instantly so i can try to mark them as fake or remove the information you want.

other than that... hire a lawyer and send them a cease and desist


I'm not saying you should do this, but I bet if you put malware on your site it would be gone from Google overnight.

It would be a terrible thing to do (you'd never get your reputation back), but it would be interesting to see what happened.


If only there would be a way to serve a differnt sites to users coming from maps.google.com....


I am trying to change our business location on google maps for the last 6 months.


Did you contact the listing owner? Did they reject your changes?


Did you recently register the domain?


[removed]


[deleted]


Fair enough (I’d delete it but cannot now)


But did you try to contact the owner of the listing ? They might remove it.


Given the poster learned that requests are forwarded to the listing owner, it sounds like they (the other business) don’t intend to fix it.


^ Exactly this.

I've also asked friends and colleagues to request the same removal and report that listing, but nothing happened.


Call me cynical (which is fair), but I would be very pleasantly surprised if Google's "report inappropriate results" links were actually logged and analyzed by an actual human instead of routed to /dev/null, because that seems like a whole lot of work for a company famous for not having reachable human support.

The message feels more like one to placate users into believing their concerns will be addressed, and hoping said users won't follow up on it to see if any action has been taken. I do hope I'm wrong.


This is one of the things that got myself very mad at Google. They didn't even bother to put my name / surname in the response email they sent. The follow up response to my response, was a subset of the first response, and still without my name after "Sig. ".

In my last email with no response (4 days ago) I've asked to be called on the phone. They probably have a special place in /dev/null for emails sent by my address.




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