Google Glass is a bit of a tongue twister as a name for Google’s controversial computerized eyewear. Now the company wants to change the product’s name to the sleeker, hipper “Glass,” but that means acquiring a trademark on the word “glass.” And the U.S. government doesn’t think that’s such a cool idea.
When Google applied for the trademark on “Glass,” an examiner at the trademark office wrote back and raised two problems for the Mountain View, California, based technology mega-corporation.
But the basic problem is simply that “glass” is used too commonly and common terms can’t be trademarked.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the trademark examiner told Google that the word “glass” was “merely descriptive” of the Google Glass eyewear. For the same reason that a maker of salsa could not trademark the term “spicy sauce,” the word “glass” does not go far enough in setting the Google product apart from other products that could be described by the word “glass.”
Google had not offered “a showing of acquired distinctiveness” for the term “glass,” the trademark examiner told the company. Common words can “acquire distinctiveness” by their use over time, the way “Apple” has become distinctive to the manufacturer of iPhones and computers.
But Google, being Google, responded with a Google search. It sent the results of that search, all 1,928 pages of it, in an almanac-sized mailing to the trademark office that included almost 2,000 articles about the Google Glass product.
The company’s argument was that its own Google search showed that “glass” was now closely associated with “Google Glass” and would not leave consumers confused over which product the word referred to.
The trademark office also said that simply calling the eyewear “Glass”made its name too similar to other products that also use the word. For example, an app-maker, Border Stylo, is marketing software for Google’s Chrome operating system with the name “Write on Glass.”
Border Stylo is one of the companies objecting to Google’s trademark application for the word “glass.”