Elliott v. Google, Inc.

“Google” remains a valid trademark designating the source of a particular search engine despite the word’s common use as a verb to mean conducting any internet search.  A trademark may be cancelled if the person seeking cancellation shows that the trademark has become generic.  This decision holds that for purposes of determining “genericness,” the trademark must be considered in connection with a particular type of goods or services.  The mark is generic when its primary meaning to the relevant public lies in identifying that particular product or service generally and without regard to the product’s source.  Also, the decision holds that mere use of the trademark as a verb (or a noun) rather than as an adjective does not establish that the mark has become generic.  Here, the public may generally use “google” to mean searching for an internet site or reference but still use “Google” as a trademark referring specifically to one internet search engine provided by Google, Inc.

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (Tallman, J.; Watford, J., concurring); May 16, 2017; 2017 WL 2112311


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