Google Avoids Genericide, Will Remain A Protected Trademark

Google sign

A Google sign is seen at the company's headquarters in Mountain View Calif. on Jan. 3 2013

What do a teleprompter, thermos, hoover, aspirin, and videotape have in common?

"Google" has delayed experiencing the same fate as kerosene, heroin, laundromat, and a number of other brand names that became so popular they died of genericide.

Google won't be joining that list any time soon.

In 2012 Chris Gillepsie acquired 763 Internet domain names that included the word "google". The court ruled that Google still retains its trademark even if the term "google" has become known for searching the Internet. One reason is because Google is a search engine and a whole lot more.

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Google has a valid trademark in its name, although people use the word "google" as a verb, an appellate panel said Tuesday.

A federal appeals court has rejected a lawsuit that aimed to cancel Google's trademark by arguing that "google" is now synonymous with searching the internet.

Google filed counterclaims for trademark dilution, cybersquatting, and unjust enrichment under the Lanham Act, as well as counterclaims for unfair competition and false advertising under California state law. The court noted that trademark loss to genericide occurs when the name has become an "exclusive descriptor" that makes it hard for competitors to compete unless they use that name.

But the UDRP disagreed, and ordered the domain names transferred to Google, noting that the names were confusingly similar to the Google mark, and thus, the men had no rights or legitimate interests in the domain a names, which the panel said were registered and used in bad faith. Gillespie then sued in a bid to invalidate the trademark.

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