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Google May Lose Trademark Rights to Its Own Name, Here’s Why

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Matt Southern
Matt Southern SEJ STAFF
Google May Lose Trademark Rights to Its Own Name, Here’s Why

A trademark lawsuit before the Supreme Court alleges the word “Google” has become too generic, and is therefore no longer eligible for trademark protection.

“Google” is often used as a verb for “search the internet” – but does that mean the company should no longer own the rights to its own name?

That’s for the Supreme Court to decide, and precedent has already been set this type of lawsuit.

Other words have lost their trademark status after becoming too generic, such as teleprompter, thermos, hoover, and aspirin.

A petition brought to the Supreme Court states:

“There is no single word other than google that conveys the action of searching the Internet using any search engine”

Before reaching the Supreme Court, this lawsuit has already been defeated in the 9th US Court of Appeals on the grounds that Google is more than just a search engine.

The US Court of Appeals also stated trademark loss can only occur if the word has become so exclusive to a single meaning that competitors cannot compete without also using that word.

Has “Google” reached that status yet? A strong argument can be made that a company like Bing can still compete without describing itself as “a company that enables users to Google information.”

It has only been days since the petition was filed for the Supreme Court to review the ruling of the US Court of Appeals. Justices will now decide whether or not to hear the case, which could take months.

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Matt Southern

Matt Southern

Lead News Writer at Search Engine Journal

Matt Southern has been the lead news writer at Search Engine Journal since 2013. With a degree in communications, Matt ... [Read full bio]

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