The US Supreme Court refused to review a petition asserting that the term “google” has become too generic and therefore unqualified for trademark protection. The Court stated on Octomber 16, that it has not granted certiorari in the case of Elliott, David et al v Google.
Without comment, the justices set aside a legal challenge claiming that Google had fallen victim to “genericide” and should no longer be trademarked.
"After widespread use, the word “google” had become synonymous with the term “search the Internet” and therefore could no longer sustain a trademark". For the moment, Google will keep its trademark—unlike the manufacturers of the teleprompter, thermos, hoover, aspirin, and videotape.
Many survey respondents who backed Google made the same point—that even when internet users say they want to “google” something, they know that this involves using the Google search engine, rather than any other. However, not everyone agreed. Some lawyers believed that the word “google” has fallen into common term as indicating searching the internet, so while the logo mark may still be distinctive, the word mark is deemed too generic. In a petition that the high court refused to hear, the justices were told that “There is no single word other than google that conveys the action of searching the Internet using any search engine.”
Several trademarks have fallen victim to genericide, including Pina Colada, Cellophane, Escalator and Aspirin, while Sony lost its ‘Walkman’ trademark in Austria in 2002 after the country’s Supreme Court decided it had become a generic term for portable stereos.