Every branding professional you’ll meet will tell you that you never ever refer to your brand as a verb. Phrases like “I Googled that” or “I Xeroxed this” are poison to the ears of those who understand trademark law.
Without getting into the intricacies of trademark law (which I don’t fully understand anyways), the short explanation is that you should only reference your trademark as an adjective. An example of a properly used trademark would be “Google™ Search Engine”.
With this in mind, I was a little surprised recently when going through my iPhone to find Google business partner Apple using Google as a verb.
Let me explain. The iPhone has a keyboard which pops up every time you position your cursor in a field which allows you to enter text. This includes your browser address bar, web forms, search fields, emails, etc.
Every time you’re in the keyboard pop-up there is a button in the bottom right hand corner of the keyboard which allows you to select an action. The button action may vary, but the text is always used to describe an action (aka verb). Some examples are….
“Go” – Select the enter or finish button on a web form -or- go to a URL typed into the browser address bar.
“Return” – Enter a return carriage in a string of text
“Google” – Perform a search on the Google™ search engine.
To me this seems like the use of Google as a verb since the “Google” button performs the action of a web search. When people refer to Google as a verb it is usually in this very context (Example: “I am going to Google Ron Paul”). I definitely don’t think Apple’s use of Google’s trademark is as an adjective, so at the very least it’s a violation of Google’s trademark guidelines.
Now I doubt this will prove to be any threat to Google protecting its mark, but it is a lesson every marketer should take to heart. When partnering with other companies always review content produced about your mark to make sure it is compliant with your trademark guidelines. It does you no good to combat the improper use of your mark when your BFF is going around encouraging everyone to use it as a verb.
If you haven’t researched how to properly protect your mark, I would recommend you get up to speed on the topic immediately. A little work now can pay off big if anyone tries to take your mark or push you off your domain!