Why Google Can’t Trademark ‘Glass’

Nobody can deny that Google is a cool company and they do a lot of awesome things when it comes to technology. With that being said, even a company that is as cool as Google does things that are silly on occasion, and one of those things is trying to trademark the word “Glass”. While Google has successfully managed to trademark the word “Google Glass’ they have yet to successfully trademark the single word “Glass”.

A lot of people don’t think that Google deserves the trademark for the word “Glass” and neither do I. In this article, we are going to discuss a little bit about the trademark and why Google can’t get it. To start, we are going to talk about some facts related to the Glass trademark.

Google Glass

Glass Trademark Facts:

  • Google filed for a trademark of ‘Google Glass’ on September 7th 2012, and the trademark was published June 18th, 2013.
  • Google filed a trademark application for the word ‘Glass’ on July 11th, 2013.
  • On September 18th, 2013 a trademark examiner responded to the application and rejected it. The examiner raised these two main objections::
    • The trademark could cause confusion among consumers, because there are other products that use the word ‘Glass’.
    • The word ‘Glass’ is a “merely descriptive” and not “distinctive”, which makes the term not worth a trademark.
  • March 20th, 2014 Google responded to the objections with a 1,928-page letter.
    • 1,900 pages of the letter were just clips of articles about Google Glass.
  • April 25th, 2014 a suspension letter / notice was sent to Google.
  • May 15th, a letter of protest was sent from USPTO Attorney Montia Pressy to USPTO examining attorney John Dwyer.
    • The letter of protest supports the trademark refusal.
    • The letter of protest shows several examples of how the trademark can be confused with other products.
      • The main example used in the letter is a company / service that has been around since 2011. WriteForGlass has been around since 2011 and they actually have a copyright on their Glass logo, which is scary similar to the logo that Google is using for Google Glass.

That’s pretty much everything that has happened up to this point. All the above is factual information and can be verified by going to the USPTO website.

Anyway, now that you have been updated on what is going on with the trademark. It’s time to get more opinionated. The examining attorneys have brought up great points when it comes to their rejection of the trademark. Now, we are going to discuss some of the other reasons why the trademark should stay rejected and why Google can’t successfully trademark the term ‘Glass’.

Why Google Can’t Trademark ‘Glass’

Confusion

Yes, the examining attorney did bring this up and it’s a great point. That’s why I’m bringing it up again! Trademarking the term Glass will not only cause confusion among tech products, but it will also cause confusion with more basic things. For example, when someone asks for a Glass, do they mean Google Glass or a drinking glass? I don’t know, you tell me.

A Descriptive Word

The word glass can be used for too many things and can’t necessarily pertain strictly to Google’s device. There’s glass birds, glasses, glass cups, glass sculptures, and all kinds of other things that use the word glass or can be described by using the word glass. If you were to say something was as fragile as glass, you wouldn’t mean Google Glass. The word glass pertains to so many things already and it is pretty pointless to try  to use a descriptive word like glass as a trademark term for a device.

Unclear

This sort of goes with the above point. Glass is a descriptive term and can be used to describe things that aren’t glass and are glass. While the term glass is mostly used to describe things made out of glass, there’s really no limit to how the word Glass can be used. Because of this, there’s not really a defined line where things end or begin. If Google managed to trademark their fancy lettering, then who’s to define what is infringement and what is not. Does a glassware brand that sells glass cups with the word Glass on them, in a slightly slanted font, all of a sudden become an infringing product?

Despite the word Glass being stylized in a particular fashion, there’s nothing to separate it from the usage of the word glass.  Google has already started to contact companies about using the word glass in their name to try to enforce their rejected trademark, but where does it stop?

GazerG had to change their name, but will every product that has the word glass in it have to change their name too? Most of the smart glasses that are coming out have the word glass in them, and even if it’s not using the same font, Google will try to find a way to slow them down. Even a company who stands up for tech nerds everywhere still does shady stuff.

Other Trademarks

There are several other (7-8) trademarks out there that involve the term Glass and they are all still pending. It would be pretty messed up for a trademark by Google to get through for Glass when many of the other trademarks haven’t even been looked at or rejected yet. So, until these other trademarks get looked at, Google has to be rejected. It’s the fairest way to approach it. I don’t understand how Google got their patent looked at before the others, but they did. Even though they got theirs processed fast, it doesn’t mean it should be accepted.

What do you think? Do you think the other trademark applications should be ignored?

Apple

Now, I know a lot of you are going to point out that Apple has a trademark on the word apple. The thing is, Apple isn’t naming a product using the word Apple. The company Apple uses the word Apple as a way to brand their services and products and not as a term for a single product. We have AppleCARE, Apple Computers, AppleLINK, and AppleSHARE. Apple doesn’t have a product that only has the word Apple in it.

Google is trying to redefine the word Glass as strictly being related to their device. That’s not the case with Apple. While I also think it is pretty bad that Apple has a trademark on the word Apple, there is a difference between how the two companies are trying to use the trademarks. Apple knows how confusing it would be to name a product with just the word Apple, so they don’t do it.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, the reasons Google can’t trademark the word ‘Glass’ are because the word can be used to describe a bunch of things and it’ll definitely cause confusion among people. Most of the population, when they hear the word glass, think about a drinking glass and not Google Glass. If the word will cause confusion with one of the most basic things in our life, then how would it not cause confusion among other things? The word is too generic, can be used to describe so many things, and ultimately a slanted font is going to do nothing to prevent that confusion.

What do you think about Google trying to trademark the word ‘Glass’? Do you think they should be able to trademark the word ‘Glass’? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section down below!