Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Don't google Google

You might ask why they aren't excited by the recognition and shout, "Yahoo!" But unlike companies whose names come from common words, Google needs to protect its trademark—now in the dictionary—from becoming a generic word. They'd really like it if, instead of suggesting that you Google yourself (even with the capitalization), I suggest you look yourself up with the Google search engine.

From The Seattle Times, the reaction to a note from Google's trademark lawyer (via SEW via Andy Beal):
Google, evidently, took offense to a passage in The [Washington] Post article: "Google, the word, now takes its place alongside the handful of proper nouns that have moved beyond a particular product to become descriptors of an entire sector—generic trademarks."

This characterization, the letter warned, is "genericide" and should be avoided.

This is a necessary part of protecting a trademark and a sign of the company's success. It's ironic that only the companies with innovative names have this problem. And then there are the companies that encourage the use of their names (digg, furl) as a verb, not generically, but referring specifically to their service. Is google as a verb really becoming generic, or does it refer specifically to the Google search engine?

Extra credit: Anyone can send an email. When you really want to get someone's attention, do something different. The Internet's 800-pound gorilla sent the newspaper a hand-addressed letter, which was unusual enough to be mentioned in the story.

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