The slide to genericide

Originally posted 2006-07-24 23:38:26. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Evan Brown writes about everyone’s favorite candidate for the dustbin of trademark history — Google.

It’s obvious to me that Google has made a conscious decision not to police the use of its trademark as a verb, because as far as I know it never does. The reason is not obvious to me, however, since Google does indeed police other trademark infringements, including dubious ones. But I am very reluctant to second guess Google, which has been very, very good to LIKELIHOOD OF CONFUSION.

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Author:Ron Coleman

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4 Responses to “The slide to genericide”

  1. March 2, 2010 at 12:40 pm #

    Google is in a fairly unique position whereby use of the mark as a verb is not, I would argue, undercutting the trademark. That is, when someone says that they’re going to “Google [something]…” they don’t mean they’re going to search the internet for [something], they mean that they’re going to search the internet USING THE GOOGLE SEARCH ENGINE for [something].

    There’s actually a site called “Let Me Google That For You” (http://lmgtfy.com/), which is not run by GOOG, which uses the Google search engine.

    • March 2, 2010 at 12:46 pm #

      Well, to some extent you’re making the “Chewy Vuitton” argument. The problem, I believe, is that in very little time, you move from there to generic. When people used to say “get me a Xerox of this” (you wouldn’t remember those days, Ben), they did indeed mean go to the Xerox machine and make a copy. That’s all there was. Same with Kleenex, etc. But once the market grows, thanks of course to market makers such as Coca-Cola, Xerox, Kleenex, etc., you start slip-sliding away.

      And yes, I know that Xerox did in fact prevent this from happening and the word did not become generic… yet their market share dwindled precipitously. Which reminds us that after all there are other things in commercial life besides trademarks.

  2. Tal S Benschar
    March 2, 2010 at 4:41 pm #

    “When people used to say “get me a Xerox of this” (you wouldn’t remember those days, Ben), they did indeed mean go to the Xerox machine and make a copy.”

    You mean someone actually had to get up out of their seat and go to a machine to get a copy? They didn’t just have a PDF scan and then send to Print?

    Oh, the horrors! How did people survive such barbarity?

    Next thing you know, you’ll tell me that you used to have to get off the couch and walk to the TV to change the channel!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. LIKELIHOOD OF CONFUSION® » Blog Archive » Googley eyes - February 6, 2008

    […] 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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