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 So Google Is No Brand X, but What Is 'Genericide'?

Computer Professional NewsSo Google Is No Brand X, but What Is 'Genericide'?
Washington Post
By Frank Ahrens

Last month, we noted that "google" had entered Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. It was a landmark for the search engine -- going from nonentity to common usage in only eight years. One would think that a company that existed only in the minds of two college dudes a few years ago would be happy that a major publication such as The Washington Post prominently marked the occasion.

One would, that is, until one got a letter from Google's trademark lawyer.

Google, evidently, took offense to this passage in last month's 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 of Google, the letter warned, is "genericide" and should be avoided. Such letters are cranked out every day by companies keen on protecting their trademarks. Wham-O Inc. wants writers to eschew "Frisbee" for "plastic flying disc," for instance. I'll note that in my Palm. Excuse me -- my "personal digital assistant."


Google, however, goes the extra mile and provides a helpful list of appropriate and inappropriate uses of its name. To show how hip and down with the kids Google is, the company gets a little wacky with its examples. Here's one:


" Appropriate: He ego-surfs on the Google search engine to see if he's listed in the results.

Inappropriate: He googles himself."

But this one's our favorite:

" Appr opriate: I ran a Google search to check out that guy from the party.

Inappropriate: I googled that hottie."

It's a matter of debate whether it's appropriate or inappropriate for a market-leading company worth $113 billion to use the word "hottie" in official correspondence. What is beyond debate is the eye-popping fact that Google's trademark complaint arrived via a hand-addressed letter in the actual mail.

Wonder if they Google(TM)-d me to get the address.

-- Frank Ahrens



Read: So Google Is No Brand X, but What Is 'Genericide'?
Washington Post



 
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