Google lawyers NOT evil

OK, OK, I’ll take the bullet for the Google lawyers. They aren’t evil.

TDavid doesn’t understand their behavior this week, though.

Oh, T, They just live in an alternate universe to the one most of us humans live in.

See, in a courtroom things happen differently than they would on a street corner. On a street corner if someone tried to steal my name I’d just hit them over the head with my Bogen monopod (trust me, that’d hurt).

But in a courtroom a judge will ask “did you defend your trademark?”

If you didn’t defend your trademark it could legally be used. To a judge “defend” means “did you send threatening letters out to anyone who used your trademark improperly and can you prove that they were sent?”

Imagine a world where Bill Gates would be allowed to call his search engine “Microsoft Google.” Now you can start to understand why lawyers for brands like Google, Xerox, or Kleenex have to defend their trademarks.

Every journalism school student, though, learns that the lawyers are generally just going to email badass sounding letters out, but aren’t willing to make the PR mess of taking you to court (not to mention that it’s expensive and most of the time they just need the copies of the letters to convince the judge they are defending, not a full-blown trial). I got a bunch of those cease-and-desist letters for using things like the word “Kleenex” in my stories in without capitalizing it or putting the usual “TM” after the word (we never did that, mostly cause we were too lazy to look up the symbol inside QuarkXPress).

Translation: cut the lawyers some slack. If they weren’t sending out stupid letters like this they’d be doing something far more evil with their time.

43 thoughts on “Google lawyers NOT evil

  1. Pingback: WPplugins.info
  2. I often use the word “god” in my blog but I rarely capitalize it. Does that make me a legal target?

    Oh wait. I just checked and no one has trademarked “god” yet so maybe it just makes me a bad person.

    I’m okay with that.

  3. I often use the word “god” in my blog but I rarely capitalize it. Does that make me a legal target?

    Oh wait. I just checked and no one has trademarked “god” yet so maybe it just makes me a bad person.

    I’m okay with that.

  4. LayZ: one reason I survived at Microsoft is I made friends with the lawyers and they explained their world to me and why they do seemingly stupid and lame things. But in their world those seemingly stupid and lame things will save your ass.

  5. LayZ: one reason I survived at Microsoft is I made friends with the lawyers and they explained their world to me and why they do seemingly stupid and lame things. But in their world those seemingly stupid and lame things will save your ass.

  6. “Can you imagine a world in which a perfectly common English word that has been in use for centuries, say, oh, i dunno, “windows” could be claimed as a tradmark?”

    You can’t just pop up and claim a trademark, you have to register it over a year before you begin to use it. That’s why iPhone, ect… are found out far before the product is ever released. Because they have to file for the mark far before they ever intend to use it. The process takes about a year total and it’s first come first serve.

    If it ever goes to court it will not go before mindless law robots but rather actual people with common sense. Those people will not apply an artificial style judgement to a case that doesn’t warrant it.

  7. “Can you imagine a world in which a perfectly common English word that has been in use for centuries, say, oh, i dunno, “windows” could be claimed as a tradmark?”

    You can’t just pop up and claim a trademark, you have to register it over a year before you begin to use it. That’s why iPhone, ect… are found out far before the product is ever released. Because they have to file for the mark far before they ever intend to use it. The process takes about a year total and it’s first come first serve.

    If it ever goes to court it will not go before mindless law robots but rather actual people with common sense. Those people will not apply an artificial style judgement to a case that doesn’t warrant it.

  8. If they weren’t sending out stupid letters like this

    Well, technically they aren’t doing any sending, it’s all their paralegals, doing the rote work. This is common trademark protectional status, the only really funny thing is how badly the letters were written and how juvenile were the examples. Makes you think Google is run by a buncha cultic teenagers, in need of serious Adult supervision.

  9. If they weren’t sending out stupid letters like this

    Well, technically they aren’t doing any sending, it’s all their paralegals, doing the rote work. This is common trademark protectional status, the only really funny thing is how badly the letters were written and how juvenile were the examples. Makes you think Google is run by a buncha cultic teenagers, in need of serious Adult supervision.

  10. Shouldn’t we be talking about how stupid the system is now that all forms of common sense have been removed? If I’m Google I have to treat a writer using “google” the same as someone who creates their own search engine and slaps my name on it in an effort to make money? That doesn’t sound stupid to anyone else?

    If someone is trying to make money off of your copyright, you should have the right to sue. You should not lose that right simply because you choose not to hassle the Sunday school class down the road who taught a lesson called “google God”. (Random example I made up.)

    I work in the Brand group for a large company so I have to listen to this junk all the time and I just find it completely dumb.

  11. Shouldn’t we be talking about how stupid the system is now that all forms of common sense have been removed? If I’m Google I have to treat a writer using “google” the same as someone who creates their own search engine and slaps my name on it in an effort to make money? That doesn’t sound stupid to anyone else?

    If someone is trying to make money off of your copyright, you should have the right to sue. You should not lose that right simply because you choose not to hassle the Sunday school class down the road who taught a lesson called “google God”. (Random example I made up.)

    I work in the Brand group for a large company so I have to listen to this junk all the time and I just find it completely dumb.

  12. Um, yes. Or Maybe.

    I’ll agree that Google has no power to prevent people using the word google in common speech. But they do have the right — indeed the obliation –to object and to put that objection on record.

    Follow this path… folks use google as a generic verb for internet search. Google takes no steps to protect its mark. The mark passes into general usage. Another company begins using it. By then, it’s too late for Google to try to protect it.

    Can you imagine a world in which a perfectly common English word that has been in use for centuries, say, oh, i dunno, “windows” could be claimed as a tradmark?

  13. Um, yes. Or Maybe.

    I’ll agree that Google has no power to prevent people using the word google in common speech. But they do have the right — indeed the obliation –to object and to put that objection on record.

    Follow this path… folks use google as a generic verb for internet search. Google takes no steps to protect its mark. The mark passes into general usage. Another company begins using it. By then, it’s too late for Google to try to protect it.

    Can you imagine a world in which a perfectly common English word that has been in use for centuries, say, oh, i dunno, “windows” could be claimed as a tradmark?

  14. Um, no.

    Unless someone is using “Google” or a derivative of it to market their own search, or other tool offered by Google, Google has no right to prevent use of the word Google in common speech.

    Trademark defense is one thing. Trying to handcuff our culture is quite another.

  15. Um, no.

    Unless someone is using “Google” or a derivative of it to market their own search, or other tool offered by Google, Google has no right to prevent use of the word Google in common speech.

    Trademark defense is one thing. Trying to handcuff our culture is quite another.

  16. Ervin: the trick is to both get “Xeroxed” as well as protect your trademark so no one else can use it. If Xerox’s lawyers didn’t send around these stupid letters in the 1980s then other copier companies would have been able to claim that Xerox wasn’t protecting its trademark and would have been able to start using Xerox on their own brand of copiers. That hasn’t happened. Why? Stupid letters from lawyers.

  17. Ervin: the trick is to both get “Xeroxed” as well as protect your trademark so no one else can use it. If Xerox’s lawyers didn’t send around these stupid letters in the 1980s then other copier companies would have been able to claim that Xerox wasn’t protecting its trademark and would have been able to start using Xerox on their own brand of copiers. That hasn’t happened. Why? Stupid letters from lawyers.

  18. Maybe Xerox “lost control” of its trademark (which I doubt), but it became synonymous with photocopiers. That is something priceless.

  19. Maybe Xerox “lost control” of its trademark (which I doubt), but it became synonymous with photocopiers. That is something priceless.

  20. Is intellectual property a necessary evil?
    I don’t believe it is. But I’m certainly not going to pass up the opportunity as long as it exists either.

  21. Is intellectual property a necessary evil?
    I don’t believe it is. But I’m certainly not going to pass up the opportunity as long as it exists either.

  22. Hi Robert! I read your blog every once in a while, and have just read your wikipedia entry, and you have the same birth date as me, Jan. 18th! Cool. :)

  23. Hi Robert! I read your blog every once in a while, and have just read your wikipedia entry, and you have the same birth date as me, Jan. 18th! Cool. :)

  24. So few people understand Trademark law or Intellectual Property laws of any sort yet so many are so quick to judge. I know it sounds crazy and yes the laws are strange but US Trademark Law requires that companies send in the law dogs for even minor infractions. If you don’t believe me then google it.

  25. So few people understand Trademark law or Intellectual Property laws of any sort yet so many are so quick to judge. I know it sounds crazy and yes the laws are strange but US Trademark Law requires that companies send in the law dogs for even minor infractions. If you don’t believe me then google it.

  26. Long time listener, first time caller :p

    If the lawyers didn’t protect the “Google”(tm) trademark in the media then the banned verb version of the trademark would become ubiquitous with searching.

    “Hoover”(TM) and “Xerox”(TM) are prime examples of trademarks that became commonly used verbs and the companies lost control of their trademark.

    I still blame the media for the word “emails”, when “email” is the singular and plural.

  27. Long time listener, first time caller :p

    If the lawyers didn’t protect the “Google”(tm) trademark in the media then the banned verb version of the trademark would become ubiquitous with searching.

    “Hoover”(TM) and “Xerox”(TM) are prime examples of trademarks that became commonly used verbs and the companies lost control of their trademark.

    I still blame the media for the word “emails”, when “email” is the singular and plural.

  28. Yes But.

    A news paper, dictionary or blog post referencing google as a generic term is a lot different to the putative “Microsoft Google”

    The whole concept of reasonableness is missing here a reasonable person would assume that the use of the term google in a newspaper does not require defending but the use by a competitor would

    Any how I would bet that this whole area had loads of case law already Hoover™ for example so maybe the Google lawyers are making work for themselves.

  29. Yes But.

    A news paper, dictionary or blog post referencing google as a generic term is a lot different to the putative “Microsoft Google”

    The whole concept of reasonableness is missing here a reasonable person would assume that the use of the term google in a newspaper does not require defending but the use by a competitor would

    Any how I would bet that this whole area had loads of case law already Hoover™ for example so maybe the Google lawyers are making work for themselves.

Comments are closed.