Googley eyes

From Reuters:

Google Inc. has knocked Microsoft Corp. from its perch as the world’s top-ranked brand, according to findings released on Monday.

The rankings, compiled by market research firm Millward Brown, also put Google ahead of well-established brands like General Electric Co., No. 2; Coca-Cola Co., No. 4; Wal-Mart Stores, No. 7; and IBM, No. 9.

Here’s a link to the Millward Brown report itself in PDF. Actually here is their top 20, with links I have added to blog items at this blog that have discussed trademark issues relating to these companies:

    1. Google
    2. GE (General Electric)
    3. Microsoft
    4. Coca Cola
    5. China Mobile
    6. Marlboro
    7. Wal-Mart
    8. Citi
    9. IBM
    10. Toyota
    11. McDonald’s
    12. Nokia
    13. Bank of America
    14. BMW
    15. HP
    16. Apple
    17. UPS
    18. Wells Fargo
    19. American Express
    20. Louis Vuitton

    My only little observation is this: Google is number one — an extraordinary achievement, indeed, considering that some of these brands are over a century old. Yet it is also the only one that is at serious risk of becoming no brand (i.e., trademark) at all, despite its own belated efforts. And — tell me if I’m wrong; I don’t have the time to do the homework — it seems to be the only one that is not itself a registered trademark?

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    Author:Ron Coleman

    I write this blog.

    7 Responses to “Googley eyes”

    1. April 24, 2007 at 1:50 pm #

      Hi Ron,

      Google does have a number of U.S. registrations for the mark, i.e. registration numbers 3140793, 2954071, 2806075 and 2884502. Google also has one Canadian registration (TMA539576) along with a few pending applications.

      I agree through, an extraordinary achievement in only ten short years.

    2. April 24, 2007 at 1:56 pm #

      Thanks, Sander. I do remember running this down once before. So here’s the quiz question: Why does the graphic above — hotlinked from Google’s own site — use a “TM” and not a (R)?

    3. April 24, 2007 at 3:04 pm #

      I think I know why they didn’t try enforcing “Google” itself as a trademark–they wanted a reputation early on of being different, and they wanted the word of mouth.

      And even now they want to avoid coming off as bastards. Assuming that they’ve named Google.com, google.net, google.whatever else so they own it, what possible danger can they be in?

      The other products, however, they have more reason to try to protect, and less likely to get their user base angry with them if they enforce those.

      Smart guys.

    4. April 24, 2007 at 3:39 pm #

      Hi Ron,

      I’ll try to take a stab at your quiz about the “TM” vs the (R), but as you know I can only comment based on a Canadian legal perspective (not being a U.S. attorney).

      Under Canadian law, trade-mark notices such as the “TM” and the (R) are not required to be able to legally enforce one’s common law rights or one’s registered mark. I do generally recommend using them to my clients, as such notices communicate to a reader that the owner has rights in the mark.

      I also tell my clients that “TM” is usually resorted to when the mark is unregistered or when an application is pending at the Trade-Marks Office. However, it may also be used with registered trade-marks in Canada.

      In contrast, the (R) indicates that the trade-mark has actually been registered at the Canadian Trade-Marks Office and should not be used for unregistered or pending marks.

      I suspect that the U.S. law is similar in terms of a TM vs an (R) notice, but maybe you can confirm that for me.

    5. April 25, 2007 at 10:46 am #

      Sander, as you surmised the US and Canada are very similar here. In both countries, though, you usually assert the strongest rights you have, and (R) is of course a lot stronger by virtue of registration. This is also relevant for purposes of proving willful infringement.

    6. April 25, 2007 at 11:02 am #

      I think Google was afraid that, if they added the R-in-a-Circle, people would say the word as “googler.” On the other hand, it is not likely that adding the “TM” will cause people to change the pronunciation.

      Or maybe they just forgot.

      JLW

    7. Roberta
      April 25, 2007 at 12:31 pm #

      In some countries, it is prohibited to indicate that a mark is registered if it is not registered in that specific country. Since Google is accessible worldwide (but maybe not registered worldwide), use of a TM rather than (R) may be Google’s attempt at risk aversion.

      Of course, it could just be that their legal people have not issued (or the business people are not following) a markings guideline…

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