Google Worried About Potential Trademark Issues

Posted on August 14, 2006

The Independent Online reports that Google is concerned about google being used as a verb. The article says Google has delivered letters to media outlets warning them to avoid using google as a verb to describe searching the Internet.

But the California-based company is becoming concerned about trademark violation. A spokesman confirmed that it had sent the letters. "We think it's important to make the distinction between using the word Google to describe using Google to search the internet, and using the word Google to describe searching the internet. It has some serious trademark issues."

But although an attempt to protect the company's trademark, the letters have raised snickers after they were leaked on to the web. Bloggers have been making fun of the examples Google's lawyers deem acceptable. They included: "Appropriate: I ran a Google search to check out that guy from the party. Inappropriate: I googled that hottie."

Merriam-Website has an entry for google that says, "to use the Google search engine to obtain information about (as a person) on the World Wide Web." That seems to be the most common use of google as verb and it should not cause Google problems. However, using the word google as a general substitute for searching the web could cause trademark problems for the search industry leader. Micropersuasion calls this "one of the worst PR moves in history." It may sound like a bad PR move to people that don't understand trademark law but companies actually have to protect their trademarks in order to keep them. Xerox and Kleenex suffered similar problems. This is actually a smart move by Google's lawyers.

The popular Digg memedigger is often referred to as "dugg" when an article of blog posting is listed on the Digg website. While this doesn't currently pose a trademark problem for Digg it could cause them problems in the future since they don't own the domain.

More from Writers Write