Advertise here

Communications and Media

Any company or organization, producing various kinds of products or providing services to the consumers, shares its own trademark, some symbol or word differentiating this company from other companies operating on the same market and producing similar products. Thus, Nike is associated with sport shoes and apparel, Coca-Cola or Pepsi with specific drinks, and so on. Thus, when using the company’s name or seeing the special symbol in advertising or in the media, people immediately associate it with this or that company. Trademarks play an important role in the modern highly competitive world, where companies need to invent new ways not only to attract consumers but also to help people in memorizing their brands and products easily. The company’s trademark is exclusive and unique being associated with the given company and with specific products, but there are cases when the company’s trademarks become generic, as it has happened with Google since its consumers violate the trademark law, making the word ‘google’ a generic term.

Generic trademarks are applicable to not only the company’s products but also to other companies providing similar services or producing similar products, and this harms the company’s business greatly. Even though each trademark should be properly registered and identified according to trademark law, trademark rights may be lost if the trademark becomes generic. Google Company and its trademark may be the proper example of the process of generalization in modern society. In fact, modern people are now highly dependent on computers and new technologies as they use search engines to find the needed information, books, or articles on the needed topics. Google is one of the most widely used and popular search engines in the world, and since people use it on a daily basis, they start replacing the word ‘to search’ with the word ‘to google’, sharing similar meaning and making it more generic in nature.

Google Inc. is the company, developing various types of computer software that makes people’s activity on the Internet more convenient and entertaining. The company invents various programs and applications on a regular basis, meeting the needs of its users worldwide. The interface of Google’s operating system is rather minimalistic and easy, enabling the people of different age and occupation to employ it all the time. The increasing role of the Internet and computers has changed people’s life and professional activity. People’s cognitive and memory processes are affected greatly by the constant use of the Internet and various search engines such as Google. People use computers and access the Internet for work, educational needs, or simply for entertainment, and Google search engine assists them in performing each of those activities, showing the great number of websites to choose from that meet the needs and interests of any Internet user. However, the increased popularity of the trademark may lead to its erosion or genericide, when the trademark becomes too common and not so unique.

Google search allows individuals to find the needed information and material in several clicks and since many people mostly use Google as the main search engine, it is easier and more convenient for them to replace searching with googling. People are using the Internet as a personal memory bank, the so-called Google effect, when people do not rely on online information, but on their ability to find it. Google search is a convenient and easy way to find some information and material on the Internet, and this ability forces the individuals to shift from the traditional means of searching information such as reading books or going to the library. While saving their time and efforts, people do not think about the negative consequences of the Internet. In fact, the verb ‘to google’ is mostly associated with the person’s searching activity using the Google search engine, but many dictionaries now turn the word into a more generalized meaning such as using any search engine to find something in the Web. In this connection, the company’s trademark loses its initial meaning and representation being linked to Google as a company. The company has become greatly concerned about this situation and the genericide of its trademark, and a result, it has asked its users in public in 2006 to use the verb only in relation to using the Google search engine and the company’s services. Even though the company has tried to prevent its trademark from becoming generic and used improperly in the relation to other search engines, it is impossible to control people’s communication or ideas on the issue. Therefore, this habit has become quite common at present, especially among the younger generations who easily accept neologisms and invent new terms and phrases for their daily communication and interaction with peers.

There are several ways Google and other companies can take to prevent its trademarks from becoming generic. First, the company should create and develop special usage standards and requirements showing how the trademark name should be used to escape legal precedents and improper usage at public. If people know that this is a serious issue, they will control everything they say or start using the trademark properly, only in relation to the given company. Friedmann informs that trademark genericide can be associated with the right to freedom of expression by third parties, including internet users. Second, the company should stand out on the market, being different from other search engines, as this helps people to associate the verb ‘to google’ only with this company and not with other search engines. Additionally, a trademark symbol should be used with the company’s name in the media or various printed materials to show that this trademark is the property of the company and its misuse might lead to the negative consequences for people.

Many people still do not observe many negative effects from the trademarks becoming generic, as people still associate the name with the company, even using it in relation to the searching activity with the help of other search engines. The idea that people use the verb ‘to google’ rather than ‘to yandex’ or any other name contributes to the company’s strong reputation and popularity on the market, contributing to its future growth, development and stability as well as competitive power in the field. People should distinguish between trademarks and generic words that are ordinary words commonly used not for a brand of a kind of thing but for the kind of a thing itself. Thus, when using the verb ‘to google’, people may simply mean searching for some information on the Web rather than associating this word with the Google Company. However, in the majority of cases, the trademark is still linked to Google.

The main negative effect of trademarks becoming generic is the decreasing recognition of the company’s brand, as people start associating it with other search engines, and Google loses its uniqueness and priority in the field. Raysman et al. claim that to avoid the generic use of a trademark, many companies with important brands attempt to educate the public about the proper use of the trademark, often disabusing the common usage of the mark as a noun or verb. The case of the Google Company has showed that the company did not pay much attention to the education of the public and it resulted in the improper usage of the word, making the company’s trademark widely used and generic in nature. There are many examples of how well-known, valid, and reliable trademarks have become generic terms used on a daily basis by the great numbers of people of different age not associated those words with specific companies but rather attaching some other meaning to them. Some examples include aspirin, thermos, xerox, and so on. Bouchoux is of the opinion that the trademark becomes generic, when consumers begin to call the product or service offered under the mark by the mark itself.

Thus, the increased popularity of the trademark in modern society does not only contribute to the increased profitability and proper reputation of the company as well as to its better reputation and success. However, it may also lead to its genericide, when consumers do not think about the company but simply associate some specific product or process with the trademark like searching for something online - googling. Thus, any company operating in modern society should follow the rules and requirements of the trademark law to prevent the trademark from becoming generic and misused by the customers.

REad more blogs on

Comments (0 comments)

Want to have your own Erasmus blog?

If you are experiencing living abroad, you're an avid traveller or want to promote the city where you live... create your own blog and share your adventures!

Don’t have an account? Sign up.

Wait a moment, please

Run hamsters! Run!