Protecting the names which represent well-known products, trademarks are an all too common thing in today’s corporate world. They protect the entity responsible for the products we love, and prevent others from representing themselves as those entities. It’s acceptable for consumers to frequently call out their favorite brands when associating them to a product, but when does a company trademark slip past the line of brand, and into the realm of general products?
A generic trademark, also known as a generalized trademark, is a trademark or brand name that has become the generic name for, or synonymous with, a general class of product or service. This occurs against the usual intentions of the trademark holder. Brands that become so popular and so common that their name begins to be associated as the product they are selling, fall into the classification of a generic trademark.
There is certainly a chance that “Google” is approaching the same level of notoriety today. It’s certainly close to being widely accepted as a verb in general usage when discussing Internet search. How many times, for example, have you said “Google it” to anybody?
Searching the web has become one of the most common practices in our lives, shy of maybe eating and sleeping. The digital age has completely taken over our lives, and we’ve adopted Google as the gateway to the answers we seek. Even when we’re not thinking of Google, we’re saying “google” in regards to search. We associate the word with “searching the web to find relevant information about something,” and search competitors like Yahoo, Bing, MSN, Dogpile, Ask Jeeves, and countless others, are all hurting as a result. Of course, their product isn’t nearly as sophisticated or accurate as Google, so one could make the argument that this is why they aren’t as popular.
Regardless of the reason for popularity though, the name is becoming associated with the product itself, and the world has stopped saying “do a search for it” and has started saying “Google it” far too often. Perhaps it’s only a matter of time before Google’s extremely popularity ends up backfiring, and they lose the trademark on their own name.
Let’s take a look at what’s happened to a few other companies, and see if you can spot the resemblance to what is happening with Google today. Click the compare button below, and let me know if you believe the same could be occurring…
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