Klein & Wilson

Trademark office takes issue with Google's "glass" request

In the world of intellectual property and trademark laws, much is at stake. A company's reputation can be deeply damaged if a competitor infringes on intellectual property or otherwise unfairly competes. These disputes can arise in a wide variety of circumstances, and many businesses are caught off guard. It helps to have legal support with experience in protecting profits by stopping unfair competition in all its forms.

One aspect of intellectual property law is researching exactly what can be trademarked. For example, Google's recent attempt to trademark the word "glass" raises some basic questions about where a brand ends and where everything else begins.

It's the job of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to either approve or reject trademark requests. The office has taken issue with Google's request because federal law prohibits trademarking words that are simply a description of the product. For example, a basketball manufacturer wouldn't have much luck trademarking the word "basketball."

In Google's case, the USTPO has taken the position that "glass" merely describes the product.

The other problem is that numerous companies have already or are currently trying to trademark similar language. In a letter from the USTPO, a number of examples were given: "iGlass," "teleglass," "smartglass," etc.

However, Google pointed out that the product in question -- Google Glass -- isn't actually made of glass, so "glass" wouldn't be a simple description of the product. Google also argued that because Google Glass is so widely known among the public, no one would be confused by the stylized word "glass" used in marketing the technology.

Business owners with intellectual property concerns may want to check back later to see how this dispute takes shape.

Source: Mashable, "Google Tries to Trademark 'Glass'," Christ Warren, April 4, 2014

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