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To Google Or Not To Google? It's A Legal Question
can't use google as a verb
walkman




msg:3045611
 2:22 pm on Aug 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Search engine giant Google, known for its mantra "don't be evil", has fired off a series of legal letters to media organisations, warning them against using its name as a verb.

In June, Google won a place in the Oxford English Dictionary, while "to google", with a lower case "g", was included last month in Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, America's leading reference book.

To Google Or Not To Google? It's A Legal Question [news.independent.co.uk]

biased article. I don't see this as Google being humorless or uptight; they're just doing what it's needed to protect their trademark.

[edited by: engine at 3:19 pm (utc) on Aug. 14, 2006]
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ogletree




msg:3046076
 8:02 pm on Aug 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

What Google has achieved is what all companies want to happen. I think the process is to try real hard to get it to happen and when it does you need to then switch gears and act like you did not want it to happen. Lawyers are very paranoid people. They think in worst-case scenarios. If I owned Google and one of my lawyers told me if I donít send out these letters there is a small chance I could lose my trademark I would say send them out.

I guess we will never know if Google wants their name to be a verb because from now on they are not allowed to say if they like it. I have often said the reason Google is winning is because of things like this. With the band aid example there are many different brands of band aids now but Band-Aid as a brand will always sell the most. In Texas we ask for a coke and people then ask back what kind of coke. We call all pop coke here. As long as most people consider Google the place to go when you want to find something they will be #1 in search no matter how good or bad their results are or how good other engines results are.

TinkyWinky




msg:3046077
 8:02 pm on Aug 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

'google' was a word 1st.

errr... 'googol' was.... not 'google'...

To put in my 2c worth... what a complete crock of $$it - why sue people that are actually promoting your brand when they are not exactly competitors.

they need to fix their search first

Well that's it isn't it... they can't! So why not create some waves some other way...

Talk about getting above your station here... it's not like Y have created a service called "google software" or "google me silly".

Hope the lawyers strip them bare...

Brett_Tabke




msg:3046083
 8:06 pm on Aug 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Did I just step into a time warp? Did some cms system just blow a core dump and cough up a story from 2002-2003?

Surely this is a reroll of old news. We had this same story in the forums 3 years ago. hmmm something is really wrong here.

2003 edition:
[webmasterworld.com...]

2003 Dictionary lists google as a verb:
[webmasterworld.com...]

[listserv.linguistlist.org...]

2006 edition:
[webmasterworld.com...]

BBC 2003:
[webmasterworld.com...]

Trademark Generic Problems:
[bitlaw.com...]

Merriam Webster:
[webmasterworld.com...]

Wait - There's More:
[webmasterworld.com...]

europeforvisitors




msg:3046101
 8:21 pm on Aug 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

To put in my 2c worth... what a complete crock of $$it -

I think Google would rather rely on $500-an-hour legal advice than 2-cent legal advice. :-)

Demaestro




msg:3046103
 8:24 pm on Aug 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Another lesson by Brett..... Can't believe I was spouting off about the dictionary thing and there is a BBC story about it from 3 years ago.

Can I delete all the posts that now make me feel dumb?

weeks




msg:3046144
 9:05 pm on Aug 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Demarsteo, don't feel bad. This discussion has rolled around for 35 years in my career. And it will continue (for the reasons outlined here by ERV and others.).

lexipixel




msg:3046147
 9:08 pm on Aug 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

How naive we all are... well, the rest of you, not me..<grin>

This is pure hype.

They want you to GOOGLE everything.
They know you have GOOGLED in the past.
They hope you will be GOOGLING in the future.

After this stunt they will tell us we can't use "G" as a pronoun or adverb.

I got Googlish results.
(as a pronoun meaning, no relevant results, please click a paid ad)

Googling - (futile) searching
Googlish - irrelevent (results)
Googlest - least significant (results)
Exgoogler - one who used to Google
Ungoogle - to Yahoo!
Antidisgooglization - same as "to google" (anti + dis is a double negative)...

The sad fact is that G's results are so bad I am back to using Yahoo! as my first choice for search.

There "G", your hype worked... you got me to mention you for free a dozen times.

BTW - EVERYONE IS FORBIDDEN FROM TYPING "LEXIPIXEL" IN PRINT OR ONLINE OR I'LL SUE! <grin>

commanderW




msg:3046189
 9:36 pm on Aug 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

errr... 'googol' was.... not 'google'...
Whoops, incorrect again! Well by misspelling the number googol , they did an excellent job of protecting their trade mark then. Gee, what went wrong?

adfree




msg:3046216
 9:51 pm on Aug 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

sem4u - sending your sister to pick up Kleenex in the US or Tempo in Germany, nobody actually cares what your family drops in the bathroom closet as long as it wipes.

It's not too much about Google wanting to be known as THE search company but to prevent that in years to come everyone GOOGLES using whatever engine including top competitors and nobody cares if your results come from Y!

THAT certainly IS of major concern to G and a big learning curve we should all have inherited from P&G.

buckworks




msg:3046235
 10:08 pm on Aug 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

For the record, Google did not invent the word or the spelling Google.

Among other things, it was used in a song in the 1920s, and rhythm and blues singer Joe August went by the stage name "Mr. Google Eyes" back in the 1950s.

TinkyWinky




msg:3046237
 10:14 pm on Aug 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

I think Google would rather rely on $500-an-hour legal advice than 2-cent legal advice. :-)

EFV - I sure hope they do ;) but glad I am not a shareholder who's ultimately paying the price for the 000,000's bill that's coming their way.

Rodney




msg:3046246
 10:26 pm on Aug 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

For the record, Google did not invent the word or the spelling Google

Which doesn't really have much to do about the need to protect a trademark.

There are literally 1000's of registered trademarks for common words (even numbers) that the trademark owners have been granted and now have a duty to protect.

buckworks




msg:3046250
 10:30 pm on Aug 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Someone else said that "googol" was a word but not "google".

That needed to be corrected.

errr... 'googol' was.... not 'google'...

walkman




msg:3046377
 1:38 am on Aug 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

>> Someone else said that "googol" was a word but not "google".

which makes it even a better trademark IMO.

buckworks




msg:3046379
 1:47 am on Aug 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

You seem to have missed my point. Google (spelled that way) was a word long before Google the search engine came along. The person who said it wasn't, was wrong.

WebPixie




msg:3046503
 3:59 am on Aug 15, 2006 (gmt 0)


It's something they have to do. I'm sure they didn't want to do it, but they also don't want their TM'd name getting totally out of their control, like with asprin. If they do nothing for long enough, eventually they'd have little or no legal defense when they decided it was time to fight back. Then Yahoo or whoever else could legally say, "Come google at our site!". That's what they want to avoid.

lexipixel




msg:3046538
 5:02 am on Aug 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

I heard where Coca Cola sends people out to bars and restaurants and has then order a "Rum and Coke"... When the person is served a "Rum and (other Cola)", they put the establishement on notice that to offer "Rum and Coke" they need to carry Coke (which is a registered mark of the Coca Cola company).

badass101




msg:3046660
 8:30 am on Aug 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

I was reading a book on PR, I think it was called 'Full Frontal PR' and in their section about buzz marketing and generating a brand they say that it's product nirvana when someone uses your company or product name as a verb.
E.g: Hoovering, Googling

I'm not sure I can see why this is such a big problem for them - but maybe I'm looking at it from the wrong perspective...

piatkow




msg:3047002
 2:47 pm on Aug 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

A little off topic, I recall being told by a bar owner that reps from Coca Cola would go to bars that stocked other colas to check what happened if a "rum and coke" was ordered.

blaze




msg:3047028
 3:03 pm on Aug 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

Simple trademark issue. If they let it stand, anyone can use Google in their product names.

Brett_Tabke




msg:3047049
 3:22 pm on Aug 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

> was a word long before Google the search engine came along.

And we have never heard how much was paid to Barney to use it. That fact has been overlooked and forgotten. Will the real Google please stand up: [toonopedia.com...]

girl_friday




msg:3047294
 5:46 pm on Aug 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

They may need/want to protect themselves, but sometimes being a bit picky, backfires.
I would think they'd be delighted that their name has become a standard search word...verb or not!

rogerd




msg:3047601
 8:45 pm on Aug 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

>>a bit picky

The ultimate effect of not vigorously protecting your trademark is that others can use it in their own product names or advertising.

E.g., in the year 2030 - "We google better at Yahoo!" "SuperGoogle, the new search engine that uses arrays of cloned human neurons!"

We're obviously a long way from anything like that being anything other than blatant infringement, but Google expects to be around for many decades and wants to keep their well-regarded brand free of any nibbling at the edges.

Alex_Miles




msg:3047684
 9:37 pm on Aug 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

Oneguy said,

I do associate google with search, but they are being less and less associated with find.

ROTFL!

I use Yahoo and Dogpile, but I use Google for news because the Yahoo page is blank until you ask for something specific. But all you get in Google these days for organic search results are pages that didn't offend their upper middle class sensibilities. Thats not why I ordered an internet!

I want to be informed, challenged, entertained! Not fed pre-digested pap that won't upset their pet bluechips.

There is an interesting use of the term 'google' in our household. It started after a rubbish organic update but really took off after the latest Adwords fiasco. When my roomate and I go to the park or walk down the street, or we visit my folks on their farm - we are always very careful never to step in any 'Googles'.

[edited by: Alex_Miles at 9:40 pm (utc) on Aug. 15, 2006]

4string




msg:3048523
 1:57 pm on Aug 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

In my area I see Pontiac TV commercials which end with a screenshot of the Google search page and they say, "Just google 'Pontiac' for more information." Surely this is authorized or even sponsored by Google?

Brett_Tabke




msg:3048553
 2:17 pm on Aug 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

Many newspapers use his name in the title of one of their comic strips. And in 1995, he was honored by the U.S. Postal Service in its "Comic Strip Classics" series of commemorative stamps.

Anyone have a Barney Google stamp? How about an MP3 of the Google song?

kaled




msg:3048785
 5:17 pm on Aug 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

"Google" is a word - the company called Google does not own the word they merely have some rights under trademark law governing how the word is used.

The company has no right to prevent individuals using the word in almost any context they see fit (provided it is not defamatory). However...

Trademark law gives the company the right to prevent the word "Google" being used in a manner that might mislead people to believe a relationship exists between the company and another party.

In other words, this is a battle Google cannot win. However, their lawyers will make millions - just think gravy train.

Kaled.

europeforvisitors




msg:3048947
 7:39 pm on Aug 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

"Google" is a word - the company called Google does not own the word they merely have some rights under trademark law governing how the word is used.

Sure, and those "some rights" are what the lawyers are trying to protect.

It ain't a big deal. Get over it, folks. Find a real issue to huff and puff about.

NevF




msg:3050683
 9:58 pm on Aug 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

whilst google may seem petty, the reality is they want everyone saying: "I'll google that" but they don't want their trademark being splattered across the internet...I feel sorry for them in one way...

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