Has Google Become Too Generic to be a Trademark?

google too generic?

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Google succeeded last year in the 9th Circuit defending the right to maintain protections over its trademark “GOOGLE” despite arguments that the word had become a generic term for searching the internet; however, that ruling is now being appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

It has been just two months since the USSC handed down a major trademark ruling regarding disparaging marks, and now the highest court may take on a case to determine the fate of many marks that have been turned into commonplace verbs or nouns by the public.

As the 9th Circuit noted, although society has a habit of taking names and common words and turning them into new verbs to describe an activity, this gives no indication “about how the public primarily understands the word itself… with regard to Internet search engines.” Consequently, the Court found that “GOOGLE” was capable of being used as a both a verb and a brand. The outcome of this appeal could put several trademarks at risk for brands that were the first or largest in the market if the USSC departs from the 9th Circuit’s ruling.

Source: Fortune

Andrew Rapacke

Andrew Rapacke

Andrew Rapacke is a registered patent attorney and serves as Managing Partner at The Rapacke Law Group, a full service intellectual property law firm. If you would like to speak with Andrew Rapacke, click here to schedule your free consultation.

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