Google right to protect its trademark

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Objection to 'google' as a verb is justified, says lawyer.

Google's recent letters to media organisations asking them to refrain from using its name as a verb are necessary to protect its trademark, a lawyer told vnunet.com.

Reader comments submitted to vnunet.com suggested that Google should be "flattered" that its name is used in this way, and that it provides "free advertising".

"[Google] should be proud so many people have latched onto their name in common use. Every time [someone] says Google, they are advertising the Google search engine! Who can complain at such free advertising?" said one.

"I think it was an honour for Google and the company lost a bit of my sympathy with this statement," wrote another.

Other readers disagreed: "I know a lot of people who say Googling. Why can't they just say search?" asked one.

The issue is about Google protecting its trademark, according to David Engel, a  partner at Addleshaw Goddard.

"The owner of a trademark, in this case Google, is under an obligation to do what it can to ensure that its rights in the mark are protected," Engel told vnunet.com.

"Otherwise, if for any reason in future it wishes to take action to prevent infringement of its trademark (e.g. against a competitor who decided to include Google as a meta tag in its own website) it would be open to such a third party to argue that Google had already acquiesced in the dilution of its rights in the name.

"The Google mark is now extremely valuable intellectual property and I am not in the least surprised that Google has taken this step.

"Indeed, the letter from the legal team at Google seems to me a very civilised and sensible way of laying down a marker in this way.

"No-one could reasonably accuse them of being heavy handed; they are simply taking steps to protect their legal position as they are perfectly entitled to do."
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