Why Companies Trademark Everyday Words

glass

Have you read the news that Google has been trying to trademark the word “glass”? They have already trademarked “Google Glass”, however, they were turned down when they tried to register “glass”.  The US Patent and Trademark office determined that a patent on the word “glass” would be too confusing because glass is used as a descriptive word. Goolge is not giving up just yet.

I found this to be a little funny and interesting. It made me wonder about the importance of trademarks. We hear about trademark battles between big corporations and other companies or sometimes in other countries all the time.

If you don’t know what Google Glass is check out this video. This video is like a virtual of how it would feel to wear the device. It will also help you understand why they would want to trademark the everyday word “glass”. Glass is used as a command while using the device.

Why are trademarks so important?

Companies trademark everyday words because they are valuable. A trademark can be one of many things. It’s a design, symbol, a word or something that is identifiable to a brand or company. A trademark produces immediate identification with a product, good or service and helps to establish trust and quality for a brand.

google-glass

Some of the first people to use trademarks were blacksmiths, craftsmen and merchants. They had marked their goods so that they can stand out from other competitors.

Standing out. That is what we are all after. The use of promo products is just another way for a brand to stand out. The advertising specialties business revolves around marking products with a logo, symbol, message or trademark so that the brand is immediately identifiable.

So, of course, the importance of a registered trademark is so that you legally own it and no one else can use it. Did you know that for a lot of big companies their trademark holds more value than what they generate in annual sales? Now that’s the kind of recognition that I would like to achieve.

Do you think they should allow Google to trademark the word “glass”? If there were one word that you could trademark, what would it be? Do you hold any trademarks?

My dream would be that everyone who owns a Google Glass will tell it to google “Garrett Specialties”!! 🙂

70 thoughts on “Why Companies Trademark Everyday Words

  1. Arleen. An interesting post about trademarks and companies like google who are trying to make everyday names like glass their own.
    If they are doing it then no doubt so are many other companies.
    I love some of their new technologies but at the end of the day they are out for profits and I wonder just how far they would actually go to secure what they want.
    Thank you for posting this.

  2. I looked at the video and I really don’t think I’m ready for that yet – its rather wild. But if I ever do get to own one, I will for sure tell it to google Garrett Specialties
    Lenie

  3. Great and timely post! I am working with a group who is bring a writers conference to Charleston and have applied for a trademark for the conference name, PubSmart. The hope is that we can make this a yearly event and eventually take it on the road. Most folks would hire a lawyer to do this…it’s an arduous task to do it on you own over the internet. And no I don not think Goggle should be able to trademark the word glass. That’s just crazy…the name Google when associated with any other word is enough to bring them brand recognition!
    Jacqueline Gum (Jacquie) recently posted…Where’s The Justice…KarmaMy Profile

    • Jacqui- Trademarking is important and if you hire an attorney it is expensive. Years ago you couldn’t do it on the internet. Depending upon what you want to protect, it is important to trademark. When you get a large and powerful as Google, I think they can trademark anything.
      Arleen recently posted…Why Companies Trademark Everyday WordsMy Profile

  4. Interesting, but if Google had the trademark on the everyday word ‘glass’ we would never be able to describe GLASS again! We would all be sued if we used the word glass in our blogs! I don’t think any company should be able to trademark common words. I do not have a trademark, (wouldn’t have the money to get one even if I wanted one, but Frozen Canuck sure sounds good 🙂 but I do own copyrights on my designs.

    • Sandy- I didn’t think it was important to trade mark my company name Garrett Specialties but in time I saw all kinds of variations of my company name after I trademarked the name. Google should come up with something more creative than trying to own glass. It will be interesting if this works out for them
      Arleen recently posted…Why Companies Trademark Everyday WordsMy Profile

  5. Hello Arleen,

    I do not hold any trademarks yet. However, I do not think that Google should try to trademark the word Glass (or anybody should). This is a common word and just because they are using it as a command, it doesn’t mean they should be allowed to trademark a common word such as “glass”.

    By the way, thanks for the awesome video 🙂

    Cheers!
    Kumar
    Kumar Gauraw recently posted…65 Tips To Boost Your Website Traffic, Engagement And Brand ImageMy Profile

  6. No they should not be allowed to trademark the word glass. If they were allowed to do so they would be trying to open a lawsuit against everyone. Good information

  7. This makes me think of George Lucas trademarking the term “Droid.” (I know that’s not an everyday word, but bear with me.) He was genius enough to do that way back when Star Wars was new, and now it’s really paying off big for him. I need to find myself a word to trademark!
    Meredith Wouters recently posted…Robin Eggs PaletteMy Profile

    • Meredith- Yes trademarking “Droid” was a smart move. Even though it is not an everyday word, there are people out there all the time thinking up names for their business so it is smart to trademark. I have had people use the name of my company and who would think anyone would use Garrett Specialties?
      Arleen recently posted…Why Companies Trademark Everyday WordsMy Profile

  8. More than a little absurd if you ask me. That’s about all I have to say on the matter…except that trademarks should be about protecting what is yours. It’s like owning a beach which I also have a big problem with. It should be public as should the word glass or any other singular word.
    Tim recently posted…Wonders of the WorldMy Profile

  9. Hey Arleen. I think it’s a battle for the common and the simple as companies want to be associated with known items. For example and speaking of Google I have tried to “trademark” the name “The Blogger” within search results so that I come up for this Search. I haven’t invested any money so it’s been pretty unsuccessful 🙂

    Glass is WAY too far. But Google knows no limits.
    Greg recently posted…Special Demo: Make The Niche Website…of Your Dreams!My Profile

  10. Hello Arleen,
    I personally do not support the idea of trademarking GLASS! How can they trademark a word as common as this! Of course they are trying to prove their domination but trademarking general and popular words cannot be justified!
    I was not aware of this news. Thanks for writing.
    Have a great week ahead!
    Tuhin recently posted…Is your child becoming a liar?My Profile

    • Tuhin- I think Google is taking trademarking glass a little too far. If they were to succeed, are they going to able to handle all the lawsuits that they would go after for those using the word glass. It really doesn’t make much sense, but obviously Google thinks they can.
      Arleen recently posted…Why Companies Trademark Everyday WordsMy Profile

  11. Hi Arleen. I love how your site Knows” me when I return, and I don’t have to type in all the stuff in the boxes. Thank you!

    That is utterly crazy about Google wanting to trademark the word “glass.” I’m sure glad the courts wouldn’t entertain it. It’s different when a company invents a type of product (like “Kleenex” for example, when referring to a tissue.) But when they’ve modified an already existing and widely used product, they should be happy to receive the trademark on Google Glass. And no, I don’t own any trademarks, although, like Bill, I own some copyrights. Great post!
    Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…poll #1: separate or combine?My Profile

    • Doreen- Thank you and I happy to make the experience easier. I agree that Google Glass is fine, but take the word Glass and make it your own and trademark it sounds nuts. It will be interesting to see if it works. But they have created a buzz and even if they never trademark the word Glass, people are already associating it with their product.
      Arleen recently posted…Why Companies Trademark Everyday WordsMy Profile

  12. Google, or anyone else for that matter, should not be able to trademark the word glass.

    When it comes to yoga US citizens originating from India have been able to trademark names of yoga postures. Yoga is a thousand year old tradition developed in the Himalayas. To allow a person today to trademark what the yogis invented a long time ago is completely wrong and should not have been allowed. Needless to say, the Indian government is up in arms. Imagine if you or I could trademark, say, the name Julius Caesar or Cleopatra. Considering that it was possible to trademark yoga postures, maybe we could trademark those names?:-)
    Catarina recently posted…Do you drive leadership through ambidexterity?My Profile

    • Catarina- To trademark any word that has been around for centuries is ridiculous. Never thought about trademarking Julies Caesar or Cleopatra. Just think of the increased business. Who knows if Google gets the approval where trademarking will go. Scary to think about it.
      Arleen recently posted…Why Companies Trademark Everyday WordsMy Profile

  13. Arleen — it’s silyl for Google to think they can and should be able to trademark “glass.” That would mean that every time someone wrote the word glass they’d have to use TM. Many of the most iconic brands are relaxing their grip on how people use their trademarks and copyrights. Coca-Cola is one striking example. I wrote about them in a post (see link below). They are actually encouraging people to play with their brand as is the company itself.
    Jeannette Paladino recently posted…Coca-Cola Learned to its Delight that Consumers Own its BrandMy Profile

    • Jeannette- I am remember reading your article about Coco Cola and it is working for them while others are doing the promoting but using a simple word like glass I think Google has gotten out of hand. Yes it would be ridiculous to think that every time we wrote the word glass, tm would have go after the work.
      Arleen recently posted…Why Companies Trademark Everyday WordsMy Profile

  14. Good post Arleen. Trademarks are extremely important, and can essential “be” your business. Your brand is everything depending on what you do. And I agree with others who said that Google should not be allowed to Trademark ‘Glass’ . They already somewhat own the internet as it were, and have their brand become a verb. What more do they want. They should have thought of a different name if they wanted something simpler than Google Glass.
    A.K.Andrew recently posted…3 Simple #Writing Tools for #EditingMy Profile

    • A.K. I have always looked at Trademarking your name as an important part of business. Many names would not think people would copy but they do. Even still you can police everyone, so as long as Google makes a fuss over trademarking a simple word as Glass, in the end they win.
      Arleen recently posted…Why Companies Trademark Everyday WordsMy Profile

  15. Hi Arleen,

    I think the word glass is too common of a name to trademark. I’m sure they could have come up with something more appropriate that has more zing to it! I understand it has to do with their glasses (which I want so desperately) but it is too generic.

    Well, Google can do what they want to do now, because they are the “big guys on the block” But big guys grow up and others may take their place. In any business, we always need to keep that in mind.

    -Donna
    donna merrill recently posted…Facebook Is A Marketer’s DreamMy Profile

    • Donna- I agree it is too common a name to trademark, but when has that ever stopped Google. What is interesting with all the hipe they really don’t have to trademark because they are already known for glass. We need more competition so they are not the only game in town.
      Arleen recently posted…Why Companies Trademark Everyday WordsMy Profile

  16. To answer your question Arleen, HELL NO! Glass is too common a word and it’s a thing that everyone has used for years. I can see why they would want to trademark the name but I think Google Glass should be the trademark and not glass. I think even in the years to come when people say the word glass they are not going to think of this product.

    I don’t have anything trademarked and can’t even think of what I would want to off the top of my head. I just hope they stand their ground and not let Google have this.

    Cool video though and product I admit.

    ~Adrienne
    Adrienne recently posted…Why Blogging Relationships Always Win Over TrafficMy Profile

  17. I totally get the value of trademarks but… as fond as I am of Google Glass ( I work for optometrists, can’t wait to see how that works when they come to Canada.) and as much as I see why they would want to trade mark the word, there is a point at which you stop being a cool company and start being a creepy multinational. Trademarking everyday words is definitely a step into creepy land. 🙂
    Debra Yearwood recently posted…AnticipationMy Profile

    • Debra- Trademarks are important but within reason. I think at first Microsoft was cool with Bill Gates and because the company wanted it all, it is not the giant it once was. There are no guarantees for Google that they will remain the giant they are.
      Arleen recently posted…Why Companies Trademark Everyday WordsMy Profile

  18. I own a trademart Arleen and it has the number 4 in between the words. They only registered it on condition that I did not specifically include 4 as a trademark. I cannot remember the legal word for it which they used. But basically I could not later claim I own a trademark for the number 4 because it is a public figure for everyday use. Therefore there are legal ways of doing it. Also a trademark is registered within a category like clothing, electronics etc and so it can be allowed based on a category with use being allowed in every other category.

  19. Arleen there has certainly been long-standing debate about both trademarking and patenting of existing concepts. There is an apocryphal story of an inventor who developed an new handle for a wheelbarrow and then discovered that no-one had patented the wheelbarrow. In my experience MOST countries patent laws have the flexibility to legitimately protect Googles investment in Glass for a particular technology without creating a situation where it benefits or others are restricted in using the term for the conventional meaning. In practice it is usually up to the holder to prove infringement and this provides a degree of common sense…unless the holder has very deep pockets and can play bully poker with the legal bills.
    Paul Graham recently posted…Chinese Takeaway. Food For Thought !My Profile

  20. Sometimes I think trade marking an everyday word is silly. If your marketing is good, it may not even be needed. Think ‘Kleenex’. Most people say kleenex when they need a tissue no matter what brand it is. I don’t think Google should be able to trade mark the word glass. Way too confusing…
    Cheryl recently posted…Buzzy #Flower Grow KitMy Profile

  21. I do not think that Google can trade mark this word as it is not only related to what they have but related to everyday life. Actually I have never thought to trademark any word if I got to that point I will think about that. I do not hold any trademark.
    First time I came to know about this. This was really informative and video was very thrilling and bit crazy as well. But in my current situation I think I am not ready for that at all .
    andleeb recently posted…Basant …. A Seasonal Kite Flying Festival.My Profile

  22. A few years ago it was all about Crock Pot, crockpot, Crock-Pot… which landed a bunch of us food bloggers in hot water and rushing to update posts.

    Google Glass… sure.. it is the name of their awesome latest device. Love it! But not the simple word “glass”.. that seems a bit much. But then again, I was calling McDonald’s “MickyD’s” long before they grabbed that name!

  23. Hi Arleen,

    In 2009, preparation for the 2010 Winter Olympics was underway. Several of my clients were impacted by road construction on the Sea to Sky Highway, connecting Vancouver and Whistler. In mentioning the traffic challenges, the word “olympics” would at times appear on web pages and blog posts, with a link to the 2010 Olympics website, for a table of anticipated highway construction closures. To our considerable surprise, legal letters arrived within ten days of mentioning the trademarked word on the websites, demanding immediate removal of any mention of the Olympics. Ridiculous!

    I can just imagine mentioning that I stopped for a “glass” of beer, at a local pub, and receiving a cease and desist letter. 🙂

    – Cole
    Cole Wiebe recently posted…How Do You Get a Brand New Website Noticed?My Profile

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