Google Could Lose it’s Trademark

Is Google a generic term like KleenexDumpster and Realtor– unworthy of protection with a trademark symbol? The case is pending.

Dr. Wikipedia tells us:

A trademark is said to become genericized when it begins as a distinctive product identifier but changes in meaning to become generic. This typically happens when the products or services with which the trademark is associated have acquired substantial market dominance or mind share, such that the primary meaning of the genericized trademark becomes the product or service itself rather than an indication of source for the product or service. A trademark thus popularized has its legal protection at risk in some countries such as the United States and United Kingdom, as its intellectual property rights in the trademark may be lost and competitors enabled to use the genericized trademark to describe their similar products, unless the owner of an affected trademark works sufficiently to correct and prevent such broad use.[1][2][3]

The bottom line is in order to prevent genericization, a company needs to police its mark and embark on a PR campaign to persuade the public to use an alternate term.

Inline skating instead of Rollerblading, copy machine not Xerox, etc.

Losing a trademark means you lose the protection over your brand. In the former example, Rollerblade would have been significantly hurt if other companies could also sell rollerblades (lower case intentionally used.) in such an example, inferior and lower-cost products could leverage the Rollerblade brand to add credibility – eventually destroying the name.

In the Google example cost may not be an issue but quality could be. Anyone could register or google.TLD-of-the-month. The point being, there could be thousands or millions of Google-like alternatives if the search company was to lose the case.

Moreover, Google has done nothing to protect its brand in the traditional sense of trademark protection from what we’ve seen. This will be a very interesting case to watch and it isn’t an unexpected result of your company name becoming a verb.

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