Guy Files Lawsuit To Strip Google Of Its Trademarks

from the good-luck-with-that dept

We all know that “Google” has become a verb (i.e., “just Google it”) but has it reached the point that it refers generically to all search? One… er… enterprising guy is trying to make the legal case that this is so. David Elliott has filed a lawsuit to have Google’s trademarks in its own name declared cancelled because the term has become generic. As you may or may not know, if a trademarked term is judged “generic,” then trademarks on those terms can be cancelled — which is why many trademark holders on near-generic words often fight hard against them becoming so generic. It’s why terms like Xerox, Kleenex, White-Out, Band-Aid and the like — which defined a category and often led people to assume that all such products were called that — are often seen as dangerous failures in trademark circles, rather than massive successes for so dominating a category.

In this case, Elliott is pissed that Google won a ruling against him after he registered over 750 domain names that used Google’s marks in some manner. He’s got a pretty big uphill battle here. While “google” may be a verb, it seems like it’s a verb in the context of using Google’s search engine, not using another alternative search engine. Elliott’s claims seem to focus on the fact that google is used as a verb, rather than that it’s generic. For example, he quotes CEO Larry Page telling people to “have fun and keep googling!” and then seems to think this supports is case. It does not. It’s not hard to see how it actually suggests the exact opposite. You would assume that someone in Larry Page’s position would say something like that because he wanted people to keep using Google’s products, not because he wanted them to generically search the internet with anyone’s search engine.

I’d be quite surprised if this actually got anywhere.

Filed Under: , ,
Companies: google

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Guy Files Lawsuit To Strip Google Of Its Trademarks”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re:

> I had this funny image of Mr Ballmer telling
> some audience “have fun and keep bingling!”

Wouldn’t Ballmer say:

have fun and keep getting binged!

Shouldn’t someone in Larry Page’s position have statements vetted by lawyers? Instead of saying:

Have fun and keep googling!

Shouldn’t he say:

Keep consuming/purchasing and keep searching using Google(R) branded properties

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Have you watched the new Hawaii Five-O? I’m going to assume Microsoft dumped a hell of a lot of cash into for product placements, since they are all using Microsoft based tablets/phones. The part that really stood out and I found extremely funny was when they were in the museum and one of the characters spouts off some trvial fact about something, when the other charcter showed surprise the guy replied, “If you don’t trust me, why don’t you go Bing it.”

I’m sorry Microsoft, you lost, it’ll be forever known as googling. Accept defeat and try to beat them at coming up with the next innovation, rather then chasing after them.

ComputerAddict (profile) says:

Google is kind of becoming generic to the less than internet savy people. I’ve met people that think Internet Explorer is Google and vice versa.

Me: “Open your internet browser”
Them: “You mean Google?”
Me: “Well kind of, just double click on the ‘e’ icon”
Them: “Yea, Google”

(Clarification, if I were offering more than quick advice, I’d Suggest getting Chrome/Firefox. In fact i’ll use cmd line FTP to download firefox before opening IE on a fresh install.)

Although I don’t think we should evaluate trademarks based on people that are illiterate in the subject area.. but that’s never stopped the government from doing it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Almost there


2012-02-17, Friday :: Playing back BluRay discs
posted by Compn


MPlayer does support encrypted BluRay playback, though not all steps are handled by MPlayer itself. The two alternative methods use the URL schemes bd:// (always supports decryption, but you need the key for each and every disk in ~/.dvdcss/KEYDB.cfg and only works well with very simple BluRays, similar to dvd:// vs. dvdnav://) and br:// (uses libbluray and should support the same as VideoLAN in the link below but that is untested).

End correction

MPlayer needs some documentation on how to play encrypted discs. Patches are welcome. VideoLAN users can follow the instructions here | Mirror

I have not tested, but it looks like it works on Mac OS X, Linux and Windows. Thanks to whoever created this and hopefully no one will have to rip the discs to a hard drive before playing now.

Have you tried that?

Machin Shin (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Almost there

Yeah, thing is no matter how you do it in Linux you have to have software that cracks the encryption. This should not be the case. I should not have to pick the lock on something I bought.

I can make them play. I am just disgusted that I have to do all this to make them play when it should be simple matter of clicking play. I still find it ironic though that their copy protection does nothing but annoy people who actually bought the disk.

MrWilson says:

Re: Re: Almost there

Unfortunately, every OS has it’s own problems and benefits. Windows has ubiquity and familiarity, which means more compatible software and easier troubleshooting since thousands of others encounter the same issues. I won’t get into the downsides which have already been well covered. Mac is nice if you happen to like getting locked into their singular user experience, but also if you’re a designer. Linux is great, but only if you have the time to invest in learning how to do things for yourself. It’s free as in kitten, which means it takes an investment to make it work. Some people don’t want to have to put a lot of effort into getting software to work.

MrWilson says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Almost there

I agree that Linux is not that difficult to get setup. Ubuntu is a cinch to setup. It’s getting things to work after the OS is installed that becomes a problem. You want to run Windows-based software? WINE can be a pain. Also, there isn’t a perfect or perfectly compatible alternative for everything that you can do on a Mac or a Windows machine. GIMP is decent, but Photoshop is more fully featured. Try finding an interoperable analogue to every program in Adobe’s Creative Suite for Linux. OpenOffice and LibreOffice are great for their compatibility, but students will find them difficult when they first start because there aren’t classes on how to use Linux office software being taught in college all that often. What college is going to teach OpenOffice in addition or as an alternative to Microsoft Office? Most software is released for Windows and knowledge of Windows is necessary if you have to interact with other people who aren’t tech-savvy. So working an office job or working tech support may necessitate maintaining a working knowledge of a Windows OS.

TDR says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Almost there

Not to mention Ubuntu’s craptastical Ubuntu One interface which basically rips away most of the extensive customizability (is that a word, lol?) that is part of the draw for Linux. I realize you can log in using Ubuntu classic, but even in there you still can’t seem to customize the top and bottom taskbars like you could in the older versions of Ubuntu. At least they never responded for me, I’d right-click on them and nothing would happen.

DC (profile) says:

Re: Re: Almost there

Don’t feed the linux troll.

Oops, I am.

You do know that MacOS is a Unix kernel, right? There’s scripting and a command line there with everything you need. Oh, and Objective C is lightyears beyond C++.

So it will fully support someone with a very high level of skill and understanding of computers.

Not a Mac fanboy. I dislike all fanboisms. Linux Fanboism is no exception.

Mike says:


My parents would be a counter-factual to the idea that “googling” is only for searching with “” They have regularly said that they’ve googled for something whilst using Yahoo and/or Bing (which ever happened to be the default search engine).

I actually think this guy SHOULD have a good case. It’s really not unlike escalator and the like and, unlike Kleenex, Google doesn’t seem to have an active, regular enforcement policy regarding the using of “googling” for non-Google products.

Google itself is a counter-factual. Search for define:googling:

“googling present participle of goo?gle (Verb)
Use an Internet search engine, particularly “she spent the afternoon googling aimlessly”.
Search for the name of (someone) on the Internet to find out information about them.”

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Google

I’m with you on this Mike. I know several people who use the term “google” to mean “search with Yahoo”.

I started thinking Google should probably lose it’s trademark on the term when I started noticing TV shows use the term “google” even when they use a made up search engine.

However, they should keep their trademark on their colorful logo. That is distinctly Google.

DC (profile) says:

Re: Google

I agree he seems to have a case. I’m not sure he should have a case in a sane world.

How is any company supposed to police people’s daily conversations?

Additionally, not only would it be impossible, but it would be a living hell for the general populace if they had to adhere to trademark restrictions in their casual conversations.

I’m really torn on this, and I’m not sure there is a clean legislative or even judicial solution.

I don’t think Xerox should have to police the general popular cultural use of Xerox to mean copy in order to prevent Cannon from marketing their copier as a “Xerox” machine.

On the other hand, I also don’t think Xerox should be able to market copying as “Xeroxing”.

It’s a puzzle.

DC (profile) says:

Re: Re: Glossed the most important part of the story

He may or may not have a working business model. Lots of people sue over what they think will be a working business model, regardless of if it is likely to … actually … work.

I think whether he could actually make money if Google didn’t shut him down is pretty much beside the point. The point is whether “Google” is generic, and also, whether the rules for “generic” should be as they are.

I’m not defending Google. In a post upstream, I have expressed how I am torn on this issue, and the guy seems to have a valid case under current law.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Glossed the most important part of the story

Basically he is trying to say that Google shouldn’t get to keep their trademark so that he can mooch off of their popularity.

And so he can do what anyone with half a brain and access to any search engine can do. Though I don’t like trademarks in general and don’t think Google should be taking his domains, that’s potentially 750 fewer useless links to show up every time I search for something… on Google.

Anonymous Coward says:

“Elliott is pissed that Google won a ruling against him after he registered over 750 domain names”

Wow!! This guy has a LEGITIMATE USE for 750 domain names!! He must have had some astoundingly good idea of how to make use of them. If that’s the case, I wish himn all the success in the world.

Either that, or he’s an asshole squatting on 750 domain names for the sole purpose of preventing anyone else with a legitimate use for them from using them unless they pay him ransom for the names. If that’s the case, I hope Google crushes him like the insect he is, even if I’d rather see him in prison.

DC (profile) says:

Re: Re:

If you look at my comments on this article, you will see I am not supporting Google.

I agree that this guy is domain squatting, which is sleazy.

1) Being sleazy does not require relinquishing all of your rights. (Should it? well …)

2) I could be mis-remembering, but when YAHOO! was the predominant search engine, I don’t recall a lot of people saying “YAHOO! that”. “Google that”‘ without regard to a particular branded search engine, if in common use, presents a problem. It is in common use.

3) I think in most of these generics trademark battles, I don’t agree that the culturally prevalent product should lose trademark, but I also believe that the culturally prevalent product should not be allowed to usurp a category with their brand. I am not suggesting this has happened.

4) There are brands who are trying to usurp words, not just brands. See Monster Cable. This needs to stop, and it needs to stop at the legislative level with penalties for trivial litigation at the least.

This is a tough one to write laws for that make sense and be consistently applied.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Dear DC,

I’m writing to inform you that you have violated the trademark on “Monster Cable” ™ by writing this post. Please note that we shall be adding a second count as you had to think of the words “Monster Cable” ™ at least once as your wrote the post.

You may avoid the embarrassment of appearing in court and the 200% certainty that you will lose this action by remitting a certified cheque or money order to this office by 10am June 1st and an apology witnessed by a notary public in the amount of $25,000,000.00. It will also be necessary that you acknowledge and agree that we own the words “Monster” and “Cable” used in that or any other order in this context or not. Further, you promise and certify that you will promote and make known to all and sundry that ownership of the words “Monster” and “Cable” are our exclusive property in particular to the word pirates of Websters Dictionary and the OED and to “pirate Mikey”.
We also accept payment via Visa, MasterCard, American Express and PayPal.
We look forward to receiving your payment within the next 72 hours.
Alpha Trolls, Barristers and Solicitors
Attorneys At Law LLC
Nuclear Bomb Town, NV

Alternative Offices
Hamilton, Bermuda

“We thank you for your custom and look forward to screwing you blue in the near future. Not that we also offer surgical procedures at half price at our special clinic in Zimbabwe.”

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »