Genericization in Trademark Law
With increased media outlets and uncontrolled information transfer in contemporary times, various companies have seen their trademarks become invalid and hence losing their rights deduced from these trademarks. Genericization makes trademarks invalid, and companies lose their rights to lawfully maximize the use previous advantages. Various companies have been forced to defend their trademarks in the courts of law and companies like Google have been able to prove that their brand name has not been genericized though the term has become common to all. Google is a multinational organization which is publicly traded. It is built on its hugely famous search engine. The Google term has however been used to refer to a search engine. The lack of specification of Google as the search engine and generalizing the term means that Google is constantly losing its meaning as well as its trademark. This research aims at defining genericization in relation to trademark laws. This paper will address Google and its generic term and the possible effects of genericization to the company.
Definition and discussion
Genericide insinuates a state where a product of a given trademark acquires dominance in the market to a point that the meaning of the original trademark becomes the product and not an indication of the product. This means that the trademark is no longer thought of as a brand name but an alternative word of the actual product. Genericide may occur during a rigorous marketing campaign that makes the trademark widely known to the public. The public, in turn, likens the trademark of the products with the class of the merchandises. Genericide in trademark law marks the process of passing a trademark from its secure lawful position as an inimitable source identifier to a non-protected position as just another word in the semantics.
Genericide promotes economic efficiency, and this fact makes the act run contrary to trademark laws. Genericide, however, disadvantaged competitors marketing goods in the same class since it makes it difficult for them to sell a product under the generic name that the masses already use to talk about the product. In actual terms, a trademark can be said to be generic as well as invalid if the sole importance of the word to the buyers become the connotation of the class of the goods, rather than the suggestion of the products actual origin.
A trademark refers to a name, phrase, or sign used to identify the product or services of the entity owning the trademark. Producers of retailers of goods and distinguish the products of an individual manufacturer from those of another manufacturer such as in case SA CNL-Sucal NV v HAG G.F. A.G. Trademarks helps buyers identify the source and the quality of goods. Due to the variations in the products, the legal protection accorded to each product is thus different. Owners of the trademark can bring in claims in the courts to defend their trademarks from being diluted.
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The Process of Genericization of Google
A case was submitted to the court with the plaintiff claiming that Google had become a verb use by the public to insinuate to activities occurring not just on Google itself but also other research related activities. The Arizona federal district court, however, disagreed with the argument. Most brand names are proprietary entities in language and obey the rules of law. At the present moments, courts are placing small importance on companies ability to protect their brands from being robbed of legal protection and made generic in the legal status Kellogg Co v. National Biscuit Co, 305 U.S 111 (1938). Companies are only able to protect their brands through trademark education campaigns aimed at helping the editors and writers to accurately use the brand name. The companies may also write letter warning individuals who suggest that the firms brand name has become linguistically generic.
Genericization in Google started while the company was in its infancy stage. However, even with other search engines like Yahoo in the market, Google was able to capture a broad market as a search engine. This was largely contributed to due to its easy nature of pronunciation and the action it represents, that is, to Google. Today, in social media, the users are not paying much attention to the grammatical rules. They are less concerned with capitalizing g to refer to the Google trademark. For example, Google is a search engine and people tend to use Google as opposed to a search engine in their everyday language. People often say I get the resource from google.
In a case filed by Elliot in the United States District Court in Arizona, Eliot asked the court to declare GOOGLE a generic word. He argued that Google was commonly understood to mean Searching the internet using any search engine that is to Google. Elliots arguments were based on the sole reason that the word Google had lacked its initial meaning as a trademark hence had lost its originality as a result of its genericness. He further insinuated that there exists no synonym for the verb Google that indicates the act of searching on the internet. With the increased Google brand recognition, the company is experiencing a tremendous movement towards the path of getting synonymous with search engine services and largely towards the generalization of the trademark. However, the principal purpose of Google is the search engine made by Google Inc. Therefore, when an individual says they are going to Google it means that they are going to visit Google search engine to obtain the needed information on a given subject.
Preventing the term to Google from becoming generic
Every organization needs reorganization to prevent genericization. Google Inc. has hidden its business under the alphabet to retain its brand. Google Inc. needs to maintain its market share and maintain its high level. The company should communicate all the rules to members of the organization, the distributors and other partners with the primary purpose of protecting the brand. This will help the organization distinguish the trademark from the other text. The capital letter in Google need to be italicized and the font style increased. The company should also use the generic name following the trademark. The mark should also not be used as a noun or verb. Google Inc. needs not to distort or change any element of the trademark either by including hyphenation, combination or abbreviation
Effects of the term Google becoming generic
Companies have struggled to retain their original brand names without them becoming generic. The term Google becoming generic will mean that the company has lost all its goodwill that employees have adeptly contributed to building over the last years. Lack of controlled use of the term Google will mean that the name has no meaning in the organization and brings no value to the business. If Google becomes generic, Google Inc. will have no legal rights to the trademark. Google will lose its inherent risk to the effective enforcement of trademark rights. The more it becomes difficult to legally enforce rights, the mark remains, and Google continues to become more generic. Becoming generic would mean that Google will be used by both authorized and non-authorized users to propagate their functions among users.
It is crucial that a company maintains its trademark by curbing genericization as much as possible. As much as Google was able to defend its case in court, it is evident that the company has experienced significant levels of Genericization. The extreme genericization of the organization will see it loose its goodwill as well as its popular trademark. It is mainly built on its popular search engine. As language evolves, trademarks change too. Google Inc. needs to change to keep up with the changing times since its trademark is very susceptible to genericide. The increased use of social media happens to be a significant contributor to the genericization. Italicizing the initial letter G would assist the organization in maintaining its as well as distinguishing its trademark.