Lawyers Go Googling

from the oops dept

Found over at Slashdot is the news that Google’s lawyers seem to have come down with silly lawyer tricks of their own. While Google has been consistently good about trying not to do silly things, they may be getting too big to keep that up. In this case, a Google lawyer apparently (though, there’s no detailed info in the email to prove it’s really a Google lawyer) told the guy who runs WordSpy that he

needs to remove the definition of Google (being used as a verb, as in “to google someone”) from his site or face trademark violation charges. While I know companies need to enforce their trademark rights to retain them, you would think that a company like Google be smarter than to simply send a cease-and-desist letter. There are plenty of other options that they could have worked out with the site’s owner.

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Comments on “Lawyers Go Googling”

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Faisal N. Jawdat (user link) says:

Google trademark

We ask that you help us to protect our brand by deleting the definition of “google” found at or revising it to take into account the trademark status of Google.

(emphasis mine)

This implies that they could just change the listed definition to indicate that it refers to searching with Google, or that it generally refers to searching with Google although it is sometimes used in other contexts.

Anonymous Coward says:

Aspirin, Band-aid, Jello-O, etc.

Many popular trademarked names soon become a “generic” name to describe a product. Aspirin ™ is actually a trademark of Bayer. Baid-Aid ™ is a trademark of Johnson & Johnson. Jell-O ™ is a trademark of Kraft.

You never hear someone saying “I have a splitting headache. Do you have any analgesics?”

Google ™ can’t stop the world from verbing it or using it as a generic term to describe an action.

Tim (user link) says:

No Subject Given

It’s this ridiculous game that lawyers have to play because of trademark law. What every product manager wants is his/her brand to become synonymous with the brand category. “Let’s go to the store to by some gelatin?” No way. It’s “Jello.”

However, the lawyers have to send out that stupid letter so they can prove that they defended their trademark. I remember when the Bay Guardian got a letter from the manufacturers of the Frisbee(R) flying plastic disc company any time they referred to Frisbees. Same thing.

The Google brand manager must just love it that searching on the internet = Googling.

Maybe you will get that letter now. 🙂

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