'Replacement Google' creator awaiting NFL penalty flag

Or the cease and desist could come from Google, given that he’s using both trademarks

Yesterday my colleague Colin Neagle was among those who flagged a new parody site called Replacement Google for necessary roughness in the way that it skewers the National Football League for foisting upon us "replacement referees," who all too often find only folly when searching for the correct call. Replacement Google is just as useless, but in a much more amusing manner.


My first thought upon reading Neagle's post was: That's too funny. My second: That's not going to survive the day, given that even a replacement referee could see it rankling trademark lawyers at Google and the NFL, the latter being notoriously touchy when it comes to unauthorized use of its logo.

Yet today the site remains up as I type, so I emailed a few questions to its creator, Erik Johnson:  

Just wondering if you've received any cease and desist correspondence from either Google or the NFL.


Not yet. I have a feeling I will eventually. ... They're both kind of big organizations and have a lot of resources. Heh.

What's been the general reaction to Replacement Google?

Totally supportive. I'm happy that people are having so much fun with it! There have been so many great tweets/comments -- too many to mention. I'm honored to make so many people laugh at something they've had a lot of anger about.

What kind of traffic is RG getting? I noticed from your Twitter feed that the site had some trouble keeping up yesterday.

RG received 104,321 unique visitors yesterday. I put it up originally around 2 p.m. yesterday, and it started to take off around 3:30 p.m. Like you mentioned, there were some problems related to all the traffic so the site wasn't loading well for most people for a period of time.

When you finally hear from the lawyers, are you planning to stand your ground? Or fold like a replacement referee making a game-determining call in front of 60,000 Seattle Seahawks fans?

Ha. I don't know, honestly. Maybe they can set up a roundtable meeting with Goodell, Brady, Aaron Rodgers, some mascots, and me. That'd be fun/cool.

As long as they're not replacement mascots.

(Update, of sorts: ESPN is reporting that an agreement between the NFL and the real referees may be near. That still wouldn't spare Johnson his seemingly inevitable introduction to NFL and Google trademark lawyers.)

(Update, Sept. 27: As noted by alert reader Tim Peterson below, Google's social media folks were so impressed with Replacement Google that they posted a link to it on the company's Facebook page.)

(Update: Just heard from Replacement Google creator Erik Johnson, who says he has yet to hear from the NFL. And that Google's shout-out was also on Twitter. Whether Google's social media and legal teams are of a like mind remains to be seen. ... I had to check: They didn't forget Google+.)

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