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Google: Noun or verb? October 29, 2006

Posted by Matsu in Humor, Information Technology, Open Source, Technology, Web, Weblog.
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A few weeks ago I heard Chris DiBona from Google talk at the Ohio Linux Fest open source software conference. At one point in his speech he used the word “Google” as a verb. He immediately corrected himself and briefly explained that he was not permitted to do that, any more. At that time I thought he was just joking. But, now that I read this blog post on the Chronicle of Higher Education blog site, I believe he was serious.

It turns out that last week the official Google blog site posted this message by Michael Krantz (a member of the Google Blog Team, whatever that is). Google, Inc. does not want anyone to use their name other than in reference to the corporation or the product they provide. When I say, they don’t want anyone to use Google as a verb, I mean no employees, friends, neighbors, Americans, foreigners, nobody. Not you, and certainly not me. (OOPS!)

So, do you ever use Google as a verb? I do. Will Google be able to stop it? I rather doubt it. Was Hormel able to stop people from using the term “Spam” to represent unwanted junk e-mail? No. Was Xerox able to prevent people from saying things like, “Xerox this for me” when their copier was not made by Xerox? Nope. So, why does Google (or the people who work there) think they can stop the world from using their company name as a verb? I suppose they must try in order to protect their trademark.

I guess the funny thing is everyone uses Google as a verb. Go ahead, google it and you will see for yourself!

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Comments»

1. Pedro Pinheiro - October 29, 2006

I think you hit the nail on the head when you said “I suppose they must try in order to protect their trademark”.
I believe that in fact, Google is not trying to stop you or me from using their name as a verb, but they must, to assert their trademark, to at least appear they’re making the effort, so that later, when they really need to enforce it, they’ll have previous statements of their intent. This is what the world needs lawyers for… 😀

2. DrBacchus - October 30, 2006

From a branding perspective, it’s very counter-intuitive. Being recognized as the definitive search engine seems only good to me. The notion that they would want to discourage this kind of dictionary identification of their name with the act of searching seems to fly in the face of marketing.

Perhaps we should Xerox the story, Scotch Tape it to the wall, and laugh until we need a Kleenex to wipe our streaming eyes.

3. Compound Quote or Compounded Misquote? « Matsu’s World: The One Less Traveled - February 17, 2008

[…] doing a quick search using the web. (Notice I did not use Google as either a verb or a noun – see previous post for […]

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