Googling banned says Google

15 Aug 2006

Publishers no longer allowed to G****e for information, as Google protects its trademark

Search engine Google has set its lawyers onto publishers who use the term 'to google' and other uses of the name as a verb - even though it is now in Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary.

The company has sent out a flurry of cease and desist letters to media companies including heavyweights such as the Washington Post barring the use of Googling and has helpfully provided a list of appropriate and inappropriate uses of its name in a bid to prevent the so-called 'genericidation' of the name.

While a first reaction might to be to advise Google to lighten up and be delighted that 'googling' had entered the language as a synonym for searching, the company's trademark lawyers have been fretting for that very reason.

A number of terms that were once trademarked have become 'genericided' over the years. Eventually courts decided that the terms were so widely used as a generic name for the product - aspirin and lino are examples - that they cease to receive trademark protection.

As a result, other companies like Hoover and Xerox have fought long campaigns to prevent their trademarks from becoming synonyms for vacuum cleaning and photocopying even though the words are still widely used for these activities.

The problem arises when Google wants to protect its trademark against potential infringers who will undoubtedly use the defence that the name has become generic.

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