Frank Ahrens of The Washington Post writes today (registration required, also picked up in the Seattle Times) that “Google goes the extra mile and provides a helpful list of appropriate and inappropriate uses of its name.”
“In July, The Washington Post and other media outlets 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 a company that existed only in the minds of two college dudes a few years ago would be happy that The Post and other media outlets prominently marked the occasion.
“One would, until one got a letter from Google’s trademark lawyer.
“Google, evidently, took offense to a passage in The Post 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.”
It’s difficult to imagine Google employees on the Mountain View campus saying “I ran a Google search to check out that guy from the party.” (This is an excerpt from the letter from Google’s trademark lawyer, sent to The Washington Post.)
I wonder if Google was as diligent when David Sheff of Playboy met with the founders in 2004 or Lesley Stahl’s interview on CBS’ 60 Minutes in 2005? Perhaps Google should also send a letter to their finance group, as the term is also used without rebuke (as included in the above Sheff article) in their own S-1 Registration Statement.