What will the trademark lawyers at Google do with this? From the Associated Press:
President Bush said Tuesday that Americans will now be able to “Google their tax dollars,” as he signed a law to create an online database for tracking about $1 trillion in government spending on grants and contracts.
I assume that the President is using “Google” not only as a verb, but metaphorically — as in (I think), Americans will be able to search this database to find information that they are looking for. There’s no suggestion in the AP story that Google (the company) will provide these search services.
What does the law of trademark genericide say about assessing the role of government officials in eroding distinctiveness? George Lucas tried to fight appropriation of “Star Wars” to describe Ronald Reagan’s “Strategic Defense Initiative,” and he lost. So for that reason among others, Google isn’t likely to get very far if it tries to fight the White House today.
Yet the AP saw fit to capitalize “Google” in the quotation — ensuring that the reported quotation refers literally to the company while the President refers metaphorically to the practice of searching for stuff. So the case isn’t quite like the Star Wars case; here, the risk of confusion seems higher, and AP is only adding to the problem. But if the AP *didn’t* capitalize “Google” in the quotation, the President’s statement would make no sense.
What should Google do here? Anything?