I *BLEEPED* her on *BLEEP*

I envision a bizarre beeping sound. It comes in out of nowhere and momentarily overwhelms your conversation. You mis-spoke. Well, you mis-spoke in how you used the word “google.” You mis-spoke because Google said so.
Yep. You heard it right. Google wants you to speak a certain way when you use the word (and yes, it’s a word now, not just a brand) “google.” People are already pretty annoyed about this.
Is this unprecedented? Asking the general public to speak a certain way? Probably. Before blogs existed, how would a company even try to get the word out without appearing like a bunch of jerks?
As far as I know, trademarks exist so other businesses don’t piggyback the goodwill you’ve built atop your brand. We are not businesses. We are people talking. Is this blog entry a warning? What if we keep doing it? Do we get sued? I particulary enjoy the “Our Lawyers Say” bit in the entry. Why are lawyers involved at all?
Frankly, I’m surprised this not-so-subtle warning to speak a certain way got past Google’s PR people. Google’s brand is pristine these days. This bit of blogging can’t do anyone any good. Especially Google.
So let’s ask again. Is Google evil? Nah. Well, maybe.

6 Comments I *BLEEPED* her on *BLEEP*

  1. Zach Smith

    Come on! This is basic stuff. They gave their explanation right there, all over the post: if the word ‘google’ loses its direct association with the Google corporation, or Google.com, then they lose their trademark. That’s where the lawyers are involved.
    It’s nothing new, either. Adobe has had a similar page up now (I am unable to find it at the moment), detailing how they would and would not like you to use the names of their software. Frankly, it’s much more restrictive than Google—Google says, “I googled it” is fine, as long as you mean the website; by Adobe’s lights, you’re supposed to say “I edited it with Adobe Photoshop® software”, rather than, you know, “I photoshopped it.”

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  2. Kenneth

    The reason they’re doing this is because if a term falls into general usage, it can’t be protected by trademark any more (if I understand correctly). So potentially anyone could call their service Google Autos or Google Auctions. Google might still sue them, but they would have a reasonable defense (Google’s just a verb, it’s in the dictionary). That’s in theory. In practice, I don’t see anyone taking advantage of Kleenex or Hoover this way, and they’ve been dealing with this issue for a long time. Hmmm…

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  3. Richard Ziade

    Ken, thanks for the clarification. But is there one good example where this has actually harmed a brand in this manner?
    I think if you weigh how obnoxious this request is on it’s face with the reality they’re faced with – which is in fact not really a risk at all – do you go ahead and ask people to do this?
    They also could’ve better clarified that this isn’t how we talk in everyday life but more about other businesses riding the Google wave.

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  4. John

    @Richard,
    yes there are many examples of where brands loose when they fall into general and loose usage..
    “I’ll hoover the floor with my new Dyson vacuum cleaner” must make the company “Hoover” cringe.
    Google give a great example with Trampoline. Everyone who builds one anywhere in the world now owns that name…. and no one has a clue about the original “Trampoline”

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  5. John Dowdell

    From another viewpoint, I’m having increasing difficulty with newbie reporters call things “Flash” or “flash”… makes my work harder, when ambiguity increases.
    It’s not for no reason that search term “(myth OR fable OR story) ‘power of naming'” returns so many hits from all over the world.
    What we call things influences how we think of them. Someone takes your name, they actually do take your power.

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