Due to precautions related to covid-19, we have expanded our options for remote consultations. please contact our office to discuss whether a full phone consultation or video conference is appropriate for your situation.
Toll Free: 800-645-2911
Phone: 937-608-9398
Focused and Effective Representation

Google's fight against genericide

Few words can match “Google” in terms of prominence in the public venue. When it comes to internet searches, the term is truly the parlance of our times. So much so, that it runs the risk of succumbing to “genericide.”

The seeds of genericide are planted when the public appropriates a trademark and uses it as a generic name for similar goods or services, regardless of their source.

Think Kleenex or Jell-O.

It can also lead to the cancellation of a trademark, ironically over their overwhelming popularity and prominence. Failure to police the mark that leads to widespread usage by competitors can lead to a public perception of “genericness” and loss of the trademark.

Think aspirin or thermos, trademarks once protected but lost in judicial decisions.

The Google trademark dispute started in early 2012. Chris Gillespie and Dave Elliot registered 763 domain names coupling “google” with another term identifying a specific brand, person or product.

Google filed a complaint under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP), arguing that the two registered those names in bad faith and committed cybersquatting. The arbitrator agreed and transferred the domain names to Google.

After filing another action in the Arizona District Court where a judge granted summary judgment in Google’s favor, Gillespie and Elliot appealed before the Ninth Circuit Court. Justices rejected the petition and affirmed the district court’s decision.

The outcome hinged on plaintiff’s claiming that “google” had become a verb synonymous with “search the internet. The court held that the public using “google” as a verb is a generic application of general interest searches that may include Google. Simply put, the possibility of googling using Google as the source of the search protects the trademark.

Google and other famous brand owners benefit from the Ninth Circuit's decision. While verb use does not equal trademark genericide, brands still need to work to protect themselves against the accusation by opposing trademark misuse and educating the public to ensure proper usage.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
  • Ohio State Bar Association | Connect.Advance.Succeed
  • Federal Bar Association | ORG Jan 5th 1920
  • Dayton Bar Association 1883
  • Super Lawyers
Email Us For A Response

Tell Us About Your Legal Need

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

7810 McEwen Road, Suite B Dayton, OH 45459 Toll Free: 800-645-2911 Phone: 937-608-9398 Fax: 937-461-5981 Dayton Law Office Map

Review Us