Google Can Keep Trademark, Court Says

Google has a valid trademark in its name, although people use the word "google" as a verb, an appellate panel said Tuesday.

The ruling, issued by a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, affirmed a decision issued in 2014 by U.S. District Court Judge Stephen McNamee in Arizona.

Tuesday's order stems from a 2012 lawsuit filed by entrepreneurs David Elliot and Chris Gillespie, who sought to invalidate Google's trademark in its name. In March of that year, they purchased 763 domain names that incorporated the word “google” in them, like and

Elliot and Gillespie argued that the word "Google" had become a "generic name" for "the act of an online search."

But McNamee said in his ruling that even if the public used "google" as a verb, it could still serve as a trademark.

A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit upheld that ruling today, stating that "Google" shouldn't meet the same fate as "aspirin," or "cellophane," -- terms that were once trademarked, but lost their protections after becoming generic.



"The mere fact that the public sometimes uses a trademark as the name for a unique product does not immediately render the mark generic," the judges wrote.

They added: "We now recognize that an internet user might use the verb 'google' in an indiscriminate sense, with no particular search engine in mind; or in a discriminate sense, with the Google search engine in mind."

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