Is “Ungoogleable” a Word?

Google fiercely guards how its trademark is used. So, it isn’t surprising that the company recently asked the Swedish Language Council to remove the word “ogooglebar” from its list of new words for 2012. The term translates to “ungoogleable” in English and is defined as “something that cannot be found with any search engine.”

As Google seems to be acutely aware, and so should you, a trademark owner can lose its federal registration if the mark loses its distinctiveness and becomes synonymous with a generic product or service. For instance, the Otis Elevator Company lost its trademark registration for “elevator” after the term become generic. Zipper, originally a trademark of B.F. Goodrich, suffered a similar fate along with aspirin.

To maintain the distinctiveness of its mark, Google also discourages the use of the term “googling” in reference to web searches. In a 2006 blog post, the company wrote: “While we’re pleased that so many people think of us when they think of searching the web, let’s face it, we do have a brand to protect, so we’d like to make clear that you should please only use ‘Google’ when you’re actually referring to Google Inc. and our services.”

Google’s response to the Swedish Language Council is a similar attempt to protect its brand. In its letter, Google specifically requested changes to the definition of “ogooglebar” and a disclaimer highlighting that Google is a registered trademark. The Swedish Language Council ultimately decided to remove the word altogether.

How Can I Help?

As this situation shows, simply registering a trademark is not enough to protect a brand. During the life of the mark, companies must often take further actions to enforce and protect their rights.  If you, or someone you know, need any help with Intellectual Property issues, from filing a patent, trademark or copyright, or just need advice regarding how best to protect your inventions, ideas or your brand, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation at nvantreeck@usip.com or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

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