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#1 bwelford

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Posted 27 October 2006 - 02:43 PM

The Official Google Blog is encouraging us to refrain from using google as a verb when used to mean searching on some other search engine. The post is entitled Do you "Google?". You'd almost wonder whether the Google lawyers have pushed the operating people to post this, since outsiders all seem to find it a little far-fetched.

Now Ask in its Official Blog counsels us that You Do and/or May, In Fact, "Ask" (or "ask"). Seems to me that Ask is going to get a lot of publicity mileage out of this topic.

For me, I'm not sure you can really trademark verbs.

#2 cre8pc

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Posted 27 October 2006 - 02:47 PM

Oh for heaven's sake. That would be like us saying to people,

"Don't create" or "Don't Cre8".

:rofl:

#3 bragadocchio

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Posted 27 October 2006 - 03:38 PM

This whole thing sort of comes off silly, like an Abbott and Costello routine.

I had to ask Ask "Who's on First" to find it, though I could have asked Google, or googled Ask, or googled Google. And who is on first.

#4 bwelford

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Posted 27 October 2006 - 06:50 PM

.. or googled Ask, or ..

Bill, Google did ask you politely not to do that. :angry:

#5 Guest_joedolson_*

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Posted 29 October 2006 - 01:52 PM

Bill, Google did ask you politely not to do that.


Did they? Or did Google politely Ask you not to do that?

:(

#6 JohnMu

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Posted 29 October 2006 - 02:13 PM

I'm sure the follow-ups were just link-bait -- was the original as well? It seems like a classical "don't talk about us" routine :). But then again, you never know, they might be serious :( :D

John

#7 bragadocchio

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Posted 29 October 2006 - 06:34 PM

Bill, Google did ask you politely not to do that. :(


Sure they did. They politely Asked me not to do that.

But, they seem to have confused trademark law with copyright law. I can google whatever I want to, and they have not rights under trademark law as long as I don't infringe their trademark or create consumer confusion. I'm also able to use their trademark in criticism or parody.

Here's a snippet from the US Code which describes trademark infringement:

§32 (15 U.S.C. §1114). Remedies; infringement; innocent infringers
(1) Any person who shall, without the consent of the registrant—

(a) use in commerce any reproduction, counterfeit, copy, or colorable imitation of a registered mark in connection with the sale, offering for sale, distribution, or advertising of any goods or services on or in connection with which such use is likely to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive; or

(B) reproduce, counterfeit, copy or colorably imitate a registered mark and apply such reproduction, counterfeit, copy or colorable imitation to labels, signs, prints, packages, wrappers, receptacles or advertisements intended to be used in commerce upon or in connection with the sale, offering for sale, distribution, or advertising of goods or services on or in connection with which such use is likely to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive,

shall be liable in a civil action by the registrant for the remedies hereinafter provided. Under subsection (B) hereof, the registrant shall not be entitled to recover profits or damages unless the acts have been committed with knowledge that such imitation is intended to be used to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive.



I googled it. In Google. :D

Of course, that's the way that it is supposed to work. Sometimes a Court gets it terribly wrong. Here's a discussion of that happening a few months ago;

Amici Briefs in the Free Speech / Trademark Injunction Case

A snippet from the brief quoted there:

The district court concluded that, because plaintiff had “established a recognizable logo and name . . . through over three years of use,” and because defendant “recognized [plaintiff’s] legitimate trademark rights” in the past, any “comments that could be construed as to disparage upon the possible trademark” rights associated with that logo and name would likely constitute an actionable infringement of those rights. The breadth of this principle, and its potential for silencing constitutionally-protected speech on and off the Internet, is quite breath-taking.



Google's statement is the kind it needs to make to show that it is attempting to protect its trademark from "genericide" but if they tried to pursue some legal action against someone posting in a blog or forum, especially in a discussion like this one which discusses the trademark, they could be making one of the biggest public relationship blunders they may ever make.

#8 vangogh

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Posted 30 October 2006 - 04:40 PM

Bill, I'm by no means any kind of legal expert, but my understanding of this was just as you state. My impression was they had to make these kind of statements in order to protect their trademark.

My guess is they'd be very happy if we all use google as a verb, since it build their brand even more (is that even possible at this point?), but make these statements for the trademark protection.

By the way did anyone noitce in the Ask post that MSN wasn't listed as having really good web search?

#9 eKstreme

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Posted 30 October 2006 - 04:47 PM

Google needs to learn from the great companies that have survived the test of time like Hoover and Xerox to name just two. Can you believe the status you gain when your brand name becomes the defining verb of the activity in the market?

In Google's case, some short-sighted legalese-speaking folks want to sabotage this wonderful opportunity. Frankly, I'm not the biggest fan of Google, so I say, go for it!

Pierre

#10 JohnMu

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Posted 30 October 2006 - 05:10 PM

Whatever you do - don't use Google incorrectly! :)

... And Brer Google skipped away as merry as a cricket while Brer Live And Ask Msn ground his teeth in rage and went home.



#11 bragadocchio

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Posted 30 October 2006 - 05:14 PM

My impression was they had to make these kind of statements in order to protect their trademark.


Yep. I think so.

Imagine four or five years from now, when SuperSupremoSearch starts advertising that people should "google at SS Search, where the googling is super." If Google tried to bring a trademark infringement case against SuperSupremoSearch, SS Search might attempt to claim that "google" was a generic term and had lost its trademark status because Google didn't make any efforts to protect its mark, or to keep it from becoming generic by educating consumers about its use as a trademark. Google might just point back to that blog post as evidence that they had made efforts to keep people aware that the mark was theirs.

Some of the legal discussion I've seen on how to keep your trademark from getting used as a generic term describes the notion of providing an alternative term for people to use, and using it yourself. Good article on the subject at the wikipedia, in the context of Xerox:

http://en.wikipedia....cized_trademark

See the section on "Avoiding genericide"

The Ask post was fun, but in a way, it was doing the same thing with its own trademark.

By the way did anyone noitce in the Ask post that MSN wasn't listed as having really good web search?


Their absence stood out. I remember back in 2002, when the media started reporting that China was blocking Google and a number of other sites. I had noticed the week before, using a proxy tool set up at Harvard, that Altavista had been blocked too. This was before Altavista had been purchased by Yahoo. Google got all of the headlines and mentions, and the blocking of Altavista was barely noticed. It was definitely conspicuous by its absence.

#12 Wit

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Posted 30 October 2006 - 05:15 PM

I think Google is (are?) exaggerating a bit - either because they're scared or because they're trolling. Speaking about which, I can't help but point to GrayHatNews' view on this matter LOL.

I'm betting on "scared" - but I wonder why.

Edited by Wit, 30 October 2006 - 05:19 PM.


#13 sonjay

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Posted 30 October 2006 - 06:05 PM

This kind of issue can be very confusing. As soon as I get back from picking up some Kleenex™-brand tissues, and put a Bandaid™-brand bandage on my cut, I'm off to conduct a Google™-brand web search on it.

#14 kensplace

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Posted 30 October 2006 - 10:56 PM

Yup, google has to put up a fight or it will lose trademark protection in the long run.

#15 A.N.Onym

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Posted 30 October 2006 - 11:56 PM

I don't think that a brand might lose if the trademark becomes genericized. Sure, some may use it for their own products. But the overall visibility should be substantial.

However, of course, there may be cases, when people will create google products. Now that can get tricky.

#16 bwelford

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Posted 31 October 2006 - 07:34 AM

As I said elsewhere, there are two other owners of live US Google trademarks.

One of these Google trademarks covers Real estate brokerage.

The other Google trademark covers Ankle and wrist weights for exercise; Archery bows; Badminton racket strings; Ball bearings for in-line skates; Ball bearings for roller skates; Ball bearings for skateboards; Baseball bases; Baseball bats; Baseball batting gloves; Baseball gloves; Baseballs; Basket balls; Basketball hoops; Basketballs; Beach balls; Billiard balls; Billiard cue racks; Billiard cues; Cases for tennis balls; Chalk for billiard cues; Chest protectors; Crossbows; Cue sticks; Exercise benches; Exercise doorway gym bars; Exercise equipment, namely, chest expanders; Exercise equipment, namely, chest pulls; Exercise equipment, namely, stationary cycles; Exercise machines; Exercise machines incorporating electronic and video game controllers, Exercise platforms; Exercise wrist weights; Field hockey balls; Fishing equipment, namely, winging material for fishing jigs and streamers; Fishing floats; Fishing lines; Fishing lures; Fishing lures, namely, plastic worms; Fishing reels; Fishing rods; Fishing tackle boxes; Foot balls; Golf bag covers; Golf bags; Golf ball retrievers; Golf balls; Golf club bags; Golf club covers; Golf club heads; Golf club inserts; Golf club shafts; Hand balls; Ice skate blades; Ice skates; In-line skates; Inflatable float tubes for fishing; Inflatable pools for recreational use; Inflatable swimming pools ; Leg weights for exercising; Paddle balls; Play swimming pools; Playground balls; Pool cue cases; Pool cue racks; Pool cue tips; Pool cues; Racket balls; Racket cases ; Rackets and strings for rackets; Racquet ball gloves; Racquet ball racket covers; Racquet ball racket strings; Racquet ball rackets; Racquet balls; Roller skates; Rubber action balls; Rubber balls; Rubber baseballs; Snow boards; Snow shoes; Snow skis. Snow sleds for recreational use; Snowboard bindings; Snowboards; Soccer balls; Soft tennis balls; Sport balls; Sportsman's fishing bags; Squash balls; Squash racket strings; Squash rackets; Stationary exercise bicycles; Stress relief balls for hand exercise; Surf boards; Swimming boards; Table tennis rackets; Table-tennis balls; Tennis balls; Tennis balls; Tennis racket covers; Tennis racket strings; Tennis racquets; Volley balls; Wake boards.

So either of these can sell their specific products under the Google name. If you want to think of some other product, not covered by these trademarks nor by the Google trademarks, then you have that right. :D



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