July 3, 2012
We "Google" this and that and most people know what we're talking about - it means "search". It has become somewhat of a generic word (unofficially), but enough to register domains with 'google' in them? No, but a current law suit may change this in the USA if it is successful.
The reason why many domain names containing trademarks of other companies put up for resale often aren't sold or are sold very cheaply is the risk of trademark owners pursuing the registrant through domain name dispute actions and under intellectual property laws.
Companies spend a great deal of time and money in building their brands and the thought of someone else profiting from that effort or creating confusion in consumers tends to raise their management and legal teams' hackles.
But what happens when a brand transcends itself to the point the trademarked name becomes commonly used in the English language? There is plenty of precedent whereby a once trademarked name can be used in a domain name; for example:
In some of the above cases, the trademark can be used as part of domain name (and in other materials) in certain countries, the trademark has expired, or the US government has officially declared it a generic term.
However, the word "Google" is a trademark still very much alive, vigorously defended and not officially declared generic.
A suit filed in Arizona District Court is pursuing the right to use 'Google' in numerous domain names, stating it is a generic verb. Each name the would-be registrant wants to register is to be accompanied by a noun. The plaintiff, David Elliot, seeks cancellation of Google's trademarks and "a declaration of Plaintiff's rights with respect to Fair Use Doctrine".
Whether Mr. Elliot has any hope of success is not ours to speculate on - but one thing is for certain; Google won't let this happen without a fight - and it has a dollar or two kicking around to finance that battle.
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