Google- a victim of trade mark dilution?
Written by Michael Coyle on 05 August 2015« Return to Reading Room
A trade mark can be diluted when its distinctiveness is lost through its use. When a mark has become so well-known in society, the sign no longer is seen as a brand but becomes synonymous with the product it represents. It is common that this mark would be used by consumers as description of the goods themselves. To sum it up, the trade mark has become descriptive in line with the nature of the goods and is no longer recognised by consumers as a brand. The age old example of this is the ‘Hoover’. The vacuum cleaner is the correct description, however the trade mark of Hoover has become so common in day to day life that it is now the term universally recognised to describe the vacuum cleaner. Another example of a trade mark that has been diluted through its use, it is now known by consumers as the descriptive term for the goods, is ‘Cellotape’. This again is the term widely recognised as to describe adhesive tape. The reason why such terms are subject to trade mark dilution is that it is no longer fair to allow the monopoly over such well-known and descriptive terms of everyday objects. The UK courts’ approach towards trade mark dilution is not favourable and if a mark is diluted substantially as the two examples stated above, the registered trade mark would be revoked and the term would no longer be able to be trade-marked.
A mark that is currently under contention is ‘Google’. It has been argued and is clear to see that as a search engine, Google has become the leader of the market. The phrase ‘google it’ has become commonplace in today’s language meaning that the trade mark is diluting fast. With the mark losing its distinctiveness, it could be revoked when it comes to renewal next year. This would have a blow on Google’s growing success and would highlight the power of trade mark dilution and the effect it can have on a business and its brand.
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