Google: A Patented Verb
Search engine giant Google, known for its mantra “don’t be evil”, has fired off a series of legal letters to media organisations, warning them against using its name as a verb.
In June, Google won a place in the Oxford English Dictionary, while “to google”, with a lower case “g”, was included last month in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, America’s leading reference book.
What I speculate Google is worried about is that the verb “googled” becomes generic for search as in “I googled it.” And the law says you can’t trademark something that is generically used. Essentially, if a case occurred with a rival search engine putting “Just google it!” at the top of their page and the court said they could do that because ‘google’ is a generic term, then you would have precedent for millions of Google imposters seeking to make money off the Google name (since it just means search to the general public).
Sounds like a victim of their own success ! Of course, the most ubiquitous brand-product synonimity is Xerox and photocopying.