Google: Don't "google"
When a company's product name is used as a verb -- think "Xerox" or "Tivo" -- it's the ultimate compliment, proof of wide acceptance and big time popularity. But, in a move that would make the Academie Francaise smile, the non-conformists at Google are fighting the misappropriation of their name.
According to Stephen Foley of The Independent, Google lawyers have "fired off a series of legal letters to media organisations, warning them against using its name as a verb." Google's concern appears to be trademark violation. Said a company spokesman to Foley: "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."
Safe to say the blogosphere doesn't feel the distinction is so important. Raving Lunacy promptly awarded Google its "Internet Idiot of the Week" award, and Steve Rubel at Micro Persuasion says "this has to go down as one of the worst PR moves in history."
Others, however, are more forgiving. "You peeps got to relax," Steve Bryant at eWeek tells bloggers. It's not that Google is really concerned about trademark violation, but rather it needs to set a legal precedent in the case of future, more serious, litigation: "By sending the letters," writes Bryant, "they can subsequently say 'see your honor, we've heretofore taken all necessary steps to protect the brand.'"
Want to read more on the story? Whatever you do, don't google it on Yahoo.
What Google is really concerned with is "genericide". It may be a compliment, but many companies have lost valuable trademark protection because too many people used their mark as a verb.
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