When Sweden’s Language Council drew up its latest annual list of new words that have become part of the public’s vocabulary in the previous 12 months, it probably had no idea of what it was in for. Definitely not a lengthy back-and-forth exchange with Google’s legal team. But that’s what happened.
The Council’s list of 12 new words included “ogooglebar”, or “unGoogleable”, which was defined as something “that can not be found on the web using a search engine.” This apparently irked the Googlers, who were okay with the word itself, but took issue with the fact that the definition included the broader term ‘search engine’ instead of specifically referring to Google.
The director of the Language Council, Ann Cederberg, told Sweden’s Sveriges Radio that they decided to drop the word from this year’s list because the “handling of the issue demanded too much work” and deliberation with Google’s legal team. She said the Council did not want to change the definition of the word, as it was composed based on the current meaning implied by people who use the term. Although it’s been removed from the list, Google obviously cannot stop Swedish citizens from using the word.
Because of the popularity of its search service, Google has been involved in a number of attempts to make sure its name remains a trademark. It has gone after businesses who have used versions of its name and logo before, in order to protect its brand. It’s also become such a generic term for search (when was the last time you said ‘search for it’ as opposed to ‘Google it’?) that analysts have warned that the word ‘Google’ may be losing its link to the company.
Hat tip: The Verge