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Googol may sue Google

Numbers are up
Tue May 18 2004, 09:25
NOW THAT Google's IPO is running, the company is on the verge of being sued by the family of a man who invented the word 'Googol' to describe a very big number.

Professor Edward Kasner came up with the word Googol, apparently at the suggestion of his 9-year-old nephew, Milton Sirotta.

He used the term in the 1940s in his book, Mathematics and the Imagination. For the record a googol is 10 raised to the 100th power - or the number 1 followed by a hundred zeros.

In 1955 he died and much later a search engine called Google was born. His relatives claim that Kasner must be spinning in his grave. They believe Google has gained financially at their expense and they want to become IPO insiders to put his soul to rest.

Hacks from the Baltimore Sun interviewed Kasner's great-niece Peri Fleisher who is coincidently a compensation specialist for a Silicon Valley firm. She admitted that she was only four when Kasner died, and could only just remember him.

She said that although Google has bought attention to the name, it has not bought attention to Kasner's work. Google was not using the concepts, but just capitalising on the name, she said. And who is the heir to Kasner's work? Step forward Fleisher's son, who has the rights to the book.

She said she had written to Google but it had never replied. She said that Google is playing off that number and not compensating them even a little bit. Ethically, it could have been more giving. She does not want cash just the opportunity to operate as insiders for the IPO.

Now they are thinking of suing. µ

 

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