- Aug. 9th, 2006
- 0 comments
You might get sued! Expect Google to mail lots of legal letters as they make a desperate effort to protect their ailing trademark. Google has become almost synonymous with search — and if they aren't careful, they'll end up like "Band-aid," "Spam," and "Frisbee."
If any of those terms have not lost their trademarks yet, they are already travelling down Generic Lane. Ask yourself if you would say "adhesive bandage strip," or "plastic flying disc." I doubt it. And when a trademark becomes synonymous with the generic item, eventually it loses its trademark status — genericide.
The word 'google,' with the lower-case 'g' is now in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. It's a transitive verb, and I use it regularly. Currently, just like the definition specifies, I only use it when I am actually using Google. However, I use the word "frisbee" for all of the "plastic flying discs" that are in my posession. "Frisbee" has experienced genericide.
I think the biggest liability for genericide is realized when the alternatives are unwieldy. Saying "I googled it" is much easier than saying "I used Google to look for it." This does not bode well for "Google" — at least as a trademark.
The title is a quote from an article in The Seattle Times where it references a legal letter sent by Google to a prominent media outlet. Google stated, among other things, that "I googled that hottie" should be replaced with "I ran a Google search to check out that guy from the party." Saying "I used Google to find that hottie" would also be appropriate in my opinion. Google cannot regulate the context in which we use their trademark unless it's clear-cut libel. The fact that a legal letter actually included the word "hottie" also amuses everyone.
Google has every right to try to protect their trademark, but you might want to google this topic in the future to see how it goes. Winning might resuilt in more negative PR than Google wants to stomach. It may be a Pyrrhic victory, as their image may be more important. I think they will ultimately lose. Of course, when I say "google," I mean you should actually use Google. I don't want any legal letters