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Court rules ‘Google’ is not a generic term; suit began in Phoenix

Posted by   /  May 17, 2017  /  No Comments

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By Michael Kiefer | The Republic

“Google” will not go the way of “aspirin,” “cellophane,” “escalator” or “thermos,” former trademarks that were used so generically that the companies that owned them were forced to relinquish them.

On Tuesday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed that instead, Google will join Coke, Q-tips, Xerox and other companies that managed to hang on to ownership of trade names even though they are widely used as nouns and verbs to describe any and all items in their class.

The argument hinged in part on turning a trademark into a verb. To “google,” the plaintiffs in the 9th Circuit case argued, had come to mean to “search the internet,” regardless of which search engine was used. That resulted in “genericide,” the argument went, legal jargon meaning that the term had entered into such widespread use that it could no longer remain a trademark.

Maybe so, the court responded, but it ruled that the principle definition of “Google” is still a search engine and a company name, regardless of how frequently it is used as a verb.


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