In reacting to Google's Do you "Google?" post, I think Ben Metcalfe speaks for a lot of people. In Google can go shove their lexicographical ‘advice’ up their ass he says:

But in the end, regardless of whether it’s positive, harmful or somewhat in between for Google, I for one don’t like to be told how to use the English language.
The decision of which words I use is my decision. The decision to refer to trademarked terms as generic terms in conversation through to casual blogging is my decision. Together as society, the choice of which terms are used regularly and thus become officially public domain is our decision.
We own our language. So Google, you can go shove your lexicographical ‘advice’ up your ass.

I think it's been well established that fighting the will of your users is a bad idea (see also: Friendster). So, as far as I'm concerned, you're more than welcome to google on Yahoo. Or MSN. Or

In fact, why not google wherever the hell you want. Search boxes really aren't that hard to find nowadays, are they?

But the if the lawyers really do threaten you, I guess you could always yahoo.


Update: Apparently John is equally impressed.

Update #2: If you've ever wondered when you can Ask or ask, the folks at Ask are glad you asked. This is just comical now! :-)

Posted by jzawodn at October 26, 2006 07:34 AM

Reader Comments
# Cristian Mezei said:

The first time I'm seeing you so beefed up against Google. What's up Jer ?

on October 26, 2006 08:14 AM
# Nobody said:

I was told (by a Yahoo employee) that internally, Yahoo actively encourage the use of 'google' as a verb - for precisely the reason that Google don't like it.

But I completely agree that it's ridiculous for Google to try and fight it - and drawing attention to the issue is only going to make it worse for them.

on October 26, 2006 08:14 AM
# Chanel said:

I refer to searching on Yahoo! as yahoogoling. (I'm not sure how to spell it. I guess it could also be spelled yahoogleing, although English "rules" would probably require that it be yahoogling but then people would leave out the "gull" sound. Sigh, making up new words wouldn't be so hard if you didn't have to figure out to spell them properly.)

on October 26, 2006 08:55 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:


You're new around here, aren't you? :-)


on October 26, 2006 08:56 AM
# AHFX said:

It is just a CYOA tatic so that when push comes to shove they can say that "we actively and publicly requested that our trademarked name not be used as common usage." Nothing more than lawyers bracing for the inevitable.

on October 26, 2006 09:34 AM
# Mark G said:

see also: XEROX

You know the real deal about this genericized issue, Mr. Zawodny, but you just go on pretending that you don't agree with what Google is doing, trying to protect their trademark.

I know, it sucks that the "enemy" is winning. But i guess they're winning fair and square. So please...

Be honest to your readers, i think we deserve that. Tell us That you really don't believe in what google is doing and that you're willing to suggest to whoever is running Yahoo right now to just lose the yahoo trademark, because its not important anyway. IF that's what you really believe in.

So when you said that Ben Metcalfe speaks for a lot of people, did you say that because he speaks for you too?
Or are you just linking to him because it promotes more anti-google sentiments? I noticed that you didn't particularly state whether you agree with him or not. Playing safe?

on October 26, 2006 09:48 AM
# Sumit Chachra said:

Can the Google lawyers come after you for naming your post "You're welcome to google on Yahoo" ??

Specially since they term this usage as "Our lawyers say: Bad. Very, very bad...." :-)

on October 26, 2006 09:48 AM
# Rocky Agrawal said:

I think technically you can Google on AOL. They didn't address that use case.

Some trademark fun:

on October 26, 2006 09:51 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:


I'm not sure why you think I'm pretending. I really *don't* agree.

I'm also not sure why you think you can dictate what I say on my web site.


on October 26, 2006 10:08 AM
# James Day said:

Remember that you can wikipedia (lower case) things. The Wikimedia Foundation registered the name as its trademark even though it's just a licensee and doesn't own the work the name is associated with - the encyclopedia. :)

on October 26, 2006 10:10 AM
# Ricky Dhatt said:

You see Adobe trying to do the same fultile thing with 'Photoshop':

It tries to be serious, but it's a riot.

on October 26, 2006 10:38 AM
# Kevin Scaldeferri said:

My favorite recent usage was on a school field trip handout where the teacher suggested that you could "google directions on MapQwest [sic]". That's got to get a few people's hackles up at G.

on October 26, 2006 10:40 AM
# Rich Ziade said:

Any way you flip it - it's obnoxious. Trademarks exist so other companies don't piggyback the goodwill you've built and associated with your brand.

We are not companies. We're just people talking. So chill the F out Google.

Man, be wary of any blog entry that has bullets starting with "Our Lawyers Say:"

on October 26, 2006 10:42 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

'Man, be wary of any blog entry that has bullets starting with "Our Lawyers Say:"'


on October 26, 2006 10:46 AM
# rich said:

Everyone (here and elsewhere) seems to be coming up with their Legal-Law 101 lecture about defending trademarks. But that's not the problem. Absolutely Google should prevent its competitors from calling searching "Googling", and it should prevent media outlets from encouraging

But they posted to their *blog* telling their *customers* what their *lawyers* want them to do. The problem has nothing to do with trademark law; the problem is that they've left a bad taste in their customers' mouths.

It's no secret that the "Google Blog" is nothing but a stream of press releases, but this is one that should have been saved for PRNewswire.

on October 26, 2006 12:02 PM
# Jeff Barr said:

> You're welcome to google on Yahoo

Yes, but can you Google at Yahoo?

I ask this because Steve Ballmer came down really hard on Microsoft employees who had Googled when they should have Lived...

on October 26, 2006 12:26 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

I know many Yahoos who Google.

on October 26, 2006 12:49 PM
# Cristian Mezei said:

>> You're new around here, aren't you? :-)

Is it that obvious ? :)

I read your blog pretty often Jer. Bloglines.

on October 26, 2006 04:21 PM
# Joe Duck said:

Jeff - ha, are you saying MS offers their folks this ultimatum?

"We recommend you choose to LIVE"

on October 26, 2006 09:01 PM
# Sheela Kapre said:

What an irony? Yahoo spent hundreds of millions of dollars on "Do you Yahoo?" advertising campaign but to no avail. On the other hand, Google becomes a verb without spending a dime for it, and they _hate_ it (ok, they want it with a G). Boy, I wouldn't want to be in Yahoo's position, given how miserably it's being crushed by Google in _every_ aspect.

on October 26, 2006 09:33 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

Every aspect?

It's an interesting fantasy land you live it, Sheela.

on October 26, 2006 09:40 PM
# Mark G said:

Yeah, you're right. I can't tell you what to say in YOUR blog. As if that's what my post was really about. pfft.

I won't expect anything worth reading about your blog as well.

And so what the heck, i am just one reader. But if it means anything, i used to like what you write here, because you used to be objective and fair.

But i guess unlike Scoble, you seem to be having a hard time rebounding from that descent into the ANTI-GOOGLE world of bloggers.

But believe me when i say this that i respected Yahoo more because of bloggers like you who used to promote transparency and all out honesty. That's just me, and I'm just one reader.

on October 26, 2006 09:59 PM
# First time visitor said:

Mark ... as one goes his way ... another comes from a different direction ... great blog Jeremy ... my first read .. I'll be back

on October 26, 2006 10:14 PM
# Neil K said:

What would you like to see Google saying or doing? If you think they're doing wrong, you must have an alternative behaviour in mind.

It seems to me that the authors are going out of their way to telegraph that they think it's stupid too, but they have to make this effort due to the brand genericization laws.

on October 26, 2006 10:31 PM
# Jacob Friis Saxberg said:

Jeremy, I think you are wrong.

Google owns their name, however they can not direct what people can say in a spoken conversation, but I think it's fair that they ask people to only use the word Google when referring to something about Google or their products.

The reason I use Google and not Yahoo! or MSN is because I trust Google. If they loose this trust relationship I'm gone. I don't think that my idea of what Google is can be changed by people using the word "to google" when referring to i.e. "to search on Yahoo!" but newcomers would not be able to spot the difference.

They have built a great brand, and of course will do their best to protect their business, however without being evil :)


on October 27, 2006 02:23 AM
# Eric Enge said:

Jacob, the cats out of the bag on this one. People are using the term Google as a verb meaning "search". It's the same way people use the term Coke. It refers to any type of Cola, including, their arch enemy Pepsi.

But Coke has learned to live with this. The overall brand lift they have experienced has helped keep them in a strong market position, even when they made major marketing mistakes (such as the New Coke launch of a many years ago).

Google needs to embrace this, because its out of their hands. I believe that they would benefit greatly by doing so, and they have lost their choice in the matter any way.


on October 27, 2006 04:07 AM
# Buy flowers said:

It’s not only XEROX, it is cashmere and some other words I just don’t remember right now as well. Everybody should know that language is a living body and the ones that keep it alive are those who use it. Here the saying that rules are made not to be followed is right. Words come and exit almost every year in a language and since new realities appear, there is a need for new word no matter if we like it or not.

on October 27, 2006 04:36 AM
# Vilo said:

To Jacob Friis Saxberg: I completelly agree with your opinion.

on October 27, 2006 05:28 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:


I'm not sure why you think that I'm *not* being honest or transparent when I write this stuff. It'd be useful if you could explain that.

Do you think I'm making this stuff up?

on October 27, 2006 06:04 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:


They're welcome to do whatever they like. It is a free country, after all.

That doesn't mean I can't have an opinion on it. :-)

on October 27, 2006 06:10 AM
# Philip Tellis said:

Looks like G's linking to john

on October 27, 2006 06:43 AM
# Philip Tellis said:

of course, there's the fine print on the ask blog:

Opinions expressed here and in any corresponding comments are the personal opinions of the original authors, not of IAC Search & Media and may not have been reviewed in advance.

on October 27, 2006 06:49 AM
# dan said:

Google is doing what every other company would do to try to protect its mark. Why on earth would anyone waste a second caring about this?

on October 27, 2006 01:31 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

Why not? :-)

on October 27, 2006 01:37 PM
# Bonnie Gibbons said:

A writer took at stab at this a couple years ago:

I can't find it online but as I recall response (generally, incredulous laughter) of other fiction writers to the idea that one should carefully write "inline skating" rather than "rollerblading." Fiction writers (and folks just conversing) are not doing so with the agenda of reinforcing or protecting someone else's brand.

Even if they did, some brands have become so genericized that we no longer know it's a brand. I genuinely thought I was a terrible rollerblader, only to discover I was a terrible inline skater instead! We all know Google is a brand, but someday it may become more genericized like band-aids (that's a good one, because there is no generic term that fully distinguishes the Band-Aid product and its competitors from other disposable bandages).

I think Google LOVES the genericization of their brand, but they have to make a show of protecting it for legal purposes.

on October 30, 2006 09:26 AM
# Mark G said:

Hey Jeremy,
I guess i over-reacted to your linking to Ben's rant. I just plainly didn't agree with his rant and the way he said it. But i guess it's my fault for even falling for those kind of stuff. They're not called rants for no reason.

Sorry if my view of your post got too affected with how much i disliked Ben's post. But having said this, again, the gesture of linking to a content as strong as Ben's post could give your reader the impression that you're somehow supporting that view that you linked to. Though nobody requires you to, i guess it would have helped if you stated at least that you understood what Google was trying to do and that you agree with them (no matter how "cool" Ben's rant was). But because you didn't, it sounded to me like you were playing safe. Pointing something that promotes anti-google sentiments, but at the same time Agreeing with Google, or actually, any other company with a trademark that they're trying to protect.

Again I'm sorry for the over-reaction.

on October 31, 2006 09:10 AM
# Mark G said:

Oh, i completely mixed up your first reply to my post. So you don't agree with Google.

Ignore the last reply, except for the apology part. :)

I don't know, i remember reading from somewhere the explanation why google is "required" by law to do things like that if they don't want their brand to be genericized. If you don't agree with with what Google did, then I will just let you be. I am curious though; if things were turned and Yahoo is faced with a similar dilemma, what would you rather do? Just give up the value of the brand altogether by allowing it to be genericized? Just asking.

on October 31, 2006 09:21 AM
# Nick West said:

What about the poor folks at Hormel who tried their best to control the use of the word SPAM. I think they should have won myself, but the cat was already out of the can.

on November 1, 2006 08:49 PM
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