Wednesday, August 16, 2006

'Google' not a verb just a proper noun.

Recently Google has sent warning missives to media organizations that use the word 'Google' as a verb - 'google'. Whenever Google does anything - most tech bloggers write posts about it. This issue is no exception. I wanted to write something about tech and this gives me a reason to join the BW. Google apparently prefers to restrain this transition of the word from a noun to a verb. This is counter intuitive considering the fact that 'google' as a verb is far more likely to stamp itself in the minds of the people and diffuse more faster into the non-tech consumer base.

However, Google does not think this way. Some analysts believe that Google is pre-empting a possible branding issue that can arise in the future. Companies cannot 'brand' and copyright commonly used words. Allowing 'google' to become a commonly used verb exposes Google to a possibility of competitors hijacking the name and cashing in on the popularity of the word. If it does not act now, it can't do much in the future.

Have we heard this situation before? Maybe - maybe not. I always thought 'walkman' and 'discman' were Sony copyrighted words. In that, if you say "I have a walkman" it automatically meant that you have a Sony. But over time I guess this blurred out and 'walkman' became a generic term for mobile audio tape players and 'discman' just meant mobile CD players. I never checked up if Sony ever had such a copyright or if they completely missed the trick on this.

Another company, which does not want to miss this trick is Apple, which seems intent on copyrighting and de-verb'ifying the family of 'pod' words.


Anonymous said...

How ironical? I come to your comments section and see a link - "show original post".And thats exactly what i intended to say to you - "show me an original post".

Hawkeye said...

what do you mean?

r K said...

it means you are a chuth

Hawkeye said...


oh! thanks i know that already :-)

Arvind said...

Screw the blog-haters! Don't come around here if you don't like what you read.

Back to the topic, there's plenty of other such words in modern usage - Xerox, Tivo come to mind. In Madras, I noticed that any MP3 player with white headphones can be called an iPod.

Hawkeye said...


never mind. i get so many of them..they arent usually anonymous also (given the IP tracking ability).

i heard so much about technology..and i thought i shld get involved in it. if only i knew more about tech I'd write more about tech :-)

i noticed the xerox example in anther blog. usually 'walkman' and 'discman' are the most common things you can think of. i didnt know about TIVO.

terrywhatlee said...


Venkat said...


This is something that every brand name does, my understanding is it is one of the clauses prior to branding..

not necessarily for just Google, Xerox..(where I agree that the chances of verbifying are higher..), but even for regular companies.., the intels and microsofts cannot be used as verbs too..

For instance.., I am not sure if a chip making company can say :

"Our chips are far more "intel" igent.." and not get sued..

it's suprising thought that Google's caught this late..whaddya think ?

Deepa said...

Is the moving company PODS keeping quiet?

Hawkeye said...


thanks it was an informative post.

Hawkeye said...


i agree. i think your example is valid in that people can make fun of intel that way.

i think google is timing it right. they let the word spred until it served them and then they stop it from spreading, which is even more beneficial as it becomes more popular that way.

Hawkeye said...


i am sure the anthroPODs wont mind :-)