Stop "googling"?

So Google has decided to start defending the use of its company name as a generic word for Internet searching. The CNet article claims that Google intends to crack down on the use of the term "googling" in much the same way Xerox and Kleenex have done in the past.

Is this a good move, PR-wise? I don't think so. Is it really a bad thing having your company name adopted into popular language? It took me a while to see it, but I can appreciate why Google may be scared to let it happen. Let me explain.

What happens if "google" takes on a negative connotation? How? Let's say that a new technology comes along that blows Internet search out of the water. Something that makes it look old and out of date; think floppy disks for transporting data. If this happens, the term, "google", referring to generic Internet searching, could start to imply a way of doing something that's inefficient or awkward. Obviously, the term will always be tied to the brand and even if Google became the leader of this new technology, the connection between the word and the name would surely persist.

There's one main problem with Google trying to defend its name that's been pointed out by almost every person who has written about this. Google can't stop people using "google". It's already become a part of the language. How do you stop the english-speaking public from using a word? You can't sue everyone. Sure, you can sue the media for using it, and have a fair go at dictionaries for including it, but you won't stop its everyday use. I've even heard presenters at Microsoft conferences using the term. It's here to stay, and Google would be better off embracing it.


Damian Brady

I'm an Australian developer, speaker, and author specialising in DevOps, MLOps, developer process, and software architecture. I love Azure DevOps, GitHub Actions, and reducing process waste.