The Battle of the Verbs: The Ninth Circuit's Reconciliation of "Verbing" with Trademark Law and Practices

January 23, 2018
In its recent decision in Elliot v. Google, the Ninth Circuit reinforced Google’s trademark significance against claims that the mark “google” should be canceled under the Lanham Act due to the public’s verb usage of the trademark. The public’s “verbing” of popular marks has become a particularly onerous problem for internet and technology trademark owners like Google, who want to encourage their products’ integration into pop culture while still maintaining control of their mark. The court’s holding that evidence of verb usage, without more, is not sufficient to prove that the trademark has succumbed to genericide is a step in the right direction in reconciling older trademark practices with modern language use and the evolving realities of internet marketing.