Saturday, August 5, 2006; Page D01
Last month, we noted that "google" had entered Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. It was a landmark for the search engine -- going from nonentity to common usage in only eight years. One would think that a company that existed only in the minds of two college dudes a few years ago would be happy that a major publication such as The Washington Post prominently marked the occasion. One would, that is, until one got a letter from Google's trademark lawyer.
Google, evidently, took offense to this passage in last month's article: "Google, the word, now takes its place alongside the handful of proper nouns that have moved beyond a particular product to become descriptors of an entire sector -- generic trademarks. "This characterization of Google, the letter warned, is "genericide" and should be avoided. Such letters are cranked out every day by companies keen on protecting their trademarks. Wham-O Inc. wants writers to eschew "Frisbee" for "plastic flying disc," for instance. I'll note that in my Palm. Excuse me -- my "personal digital assistant."