Thursday, August 17, 2006

Google says no more googling

I like Google™. I am critical of their actions sometimes, but in general they are one of the less evil of the big corporations. But sometimes they need to learn the lesson of King Canute: you can't keep the tide from coming in.

Google Inc. has been sending nastygrams to media organisations, warning them to stop using google as a verb.

Sorry guys, but the tide has come in. Google is now listed in at least three dictionaries, two in English and one in Japanese. In two of those, "google" is listed as a verb. Google Inc., like so many before them (elevator, escalator, zipper...) is a victim of their own success: google has become a generic term for "search the Internet". Of course, Google Inc. has to try to defend their trademark, and no doubt there is a difference between Google™ the noun and google the verb. But for a company whose corporate motto is "Don't Be Evil", Google Inc. need to actually, um, stop being evil. If Hormel Foods Corporation can distinguish between Spam™ the tasty food-like product and spam the evil unsolicited email, Google Inc. can stop trying to stop the tide from coming in too.

Oh, and guys... your website is full of dozens of references to "Google" with nary an trademark ™ or registered trademark ® symbol to be seen. There's a ™ on the Google logo, and that's about it. Sloppy, real sloppy. That's the sort of thing that will convince a judge that you aren't really serious about your trademarks.

At least Google Inc. can take cold comfort in the fact that though competitors will (soon) be able to talk about "googling the Web for something using Acme.Search.Com" the owner of will have a huge advantage over their competitors.

All trademarks are the property of their respective owners. But google as a verb is generic, sorry guys. Get over it.

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