Is Google Losing Its Sense of Humor?

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.”

Google, however, goes the extra mile and provides a helpful list of appropriate and inappropriate uses of its name. To show how hip and down with the kids Google is, the company gets a little wacky with its examples. Here’s one:

Appropriate: He ego-surfs on the Google search engine to see if he’s listed in the results.

Inappropriate: He googles himself.”

But this one’s our favorite:

Click here for the full story. Hat tip to Tinkerty Tonk.

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  1. Jack's Shack August 15, 2006 at 6:22 am




    Makes sense to me.

  2. Houston August 15, 2006 at 4:09 am

    I find attempts to control language usage to be incredibly offensive. I love and worship Google and will continue to do so for my own delight. And you know what? Google loves me. I must get over 100 referrals a day from various Google searches of the most off-the-wall shit. My personal favorite search remains “black drag queen.” I haven’t checked it lately, but I used to be in the top 5.

  3. Elster August 14, 2006 at 9:56 pm

    The question is, did Google have a sense of humor to lose?

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