Google: when is a verb not a verb?

Google isn't living up to its "don't be evil" motto by legally lambasting media organisations for using its moniker as a verb.

The search engine has sent a number of 'cease and desist' letters from its legal people advising them they are incorrectly using its trademark and offering examples of proper usage, according to media reports.

The company says it is wants people to be clear about the difference between using the term when specifically referencing its own search capabilities and generic Internet-based searching.

Google is clearly listed as a verb in the online reference site Wikipedia and was added to 11th edition of the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary just last month.

But despite the viral nature of the word demonstrating the search engine's popularity, it is clearly not the type of exposure Google wants.

"Protecting our trademark is important to us, so we want to be sure that when people talk about 'Googling' they mean searching on Google and not on any other search engine," said Rose Hagan, senior trademark counsel for Google.

A further Google spokesperson added: "Google actively polices its trademarks and takes the necessary steps to protect them, including educating the media and the public about the proper use of its trademarks."

While Google may be focusing on actively policing other media resources, it might need to look closer to home first; at the time of writing, Word Spy's incorrect referencing is ranked second in the search engine's results listing for the search term 'googling.'

Maggie Holland

Maggie has been a journalist since 1999, starting her career as an editorial assistant on then-weekly magazine Computing, before working her way up to senior reporter level. In 2006, just weeks before ITPro was launched, Maggie joined Dennis Publishing as a reporter. Having worked her way up to editor of ITPro, she was appointed group editor of CloudPro and ITPro in April 2012. She became the editorial director and took responsibility for ChannelPro, in 2016.

Her areas of particular interest, aside from cloud, include management and C-level issues, the business value of technology, green and environmental issues and careers to name but a few.