Recently, the publishers of the Oxford English Dictionary and the Merriam-Webster dictionary added the word “Google” to their respective dictionaries. Both dictionaries defined the word as a verb roughly meaning to use the Google search engine to obtain information on the Internet. While this level of prominence for a brand name might be a marketer’s dream, it is a trademark owner’s nightmare.
Once a trademark enters the public vernacular, whether as a noun, verb or adjective, there is a great likelihood that the trademark will become a generic term that covers an entire category of goods or services regardless of source. And when that happens, the trademark is deemed generic and loses its statutory protection, meaning that others, including competitors, can use the mark to identify their own goods and services. (See 15 U.S.C. � 1064(3).) Only if the trademark owner promptly takes well measured affirmative steps can this nightmare be averted.
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