“Ungoogleable”

In December, the council unveiled its customary annual list of new Swedish words. Among the words that Swedes had begun using in 2012 was “ogooglebar” (‘ungoogleable’).

The California-based multinational soon got into a huff, asking the council to amend its definition. But the language experts refused to bow down to the demands, instead choosing a third option – removing the term all together.

Now Google is trying to control the words a country and its population can use? Really Google.



  • http://twitter.com/twotribes Michael Burgstahler

    There’s a simple reason for large corporation filing objections to their brand names being included in dictionaries:

    The more that happens, the more generic a brand name becomes. That ultimately leads to a brand name losing its protectability because it has become a common part of daily language.

    Has happened to many household brand names over decades, e.g. Kleenex, Xerox, Tempo (common German word for handkerchief). Some brand names are on the edge of becoming generic, e.g. “to fedex”, “to google” (sic!)

    • gjgustav

      I say too bad. Don’t become dominant in your market if you can’t handle that sort of thing. You don’t hear Adobe complaining about photographs being “photoshopped.”

      • samdchuck

        Uh yeah you do, they like pretty much every company has their ‘proper use of our trademark’ page. Google does this, Adobe does this, Apple does this, Jack Daniels does this, everybody with a trademark does this. Even Digg.com did it back in the day. Every once in a while they go out and request changes to protect their trademark, like Apple with the iPodRip (now iRip) app.

        This is exactly how you handle that sort of thing…

        • gjgustav

          Yes, I’ve seen pages outlining proper use of trademarks, but I haven’t heard Adobe actually complain to any organization. But hey, I could be wrong.

          Regardless, my point was that it comes with the territory. A language council only reflects the usage by the general public. Google, or Adobe can’t go out suing people for using it in everyday, non-commercial use.

          • samdchuck

            Adobe complained over a Adobe AIR app website that used AIR in its name. Just search for “adobe trademark infringement”, there’s more.

            I agree that this comes with the territory, and you can sue companies and organisations even non-commercial ones for trademark infringement.

            But Google didn’t sue anyone here, they asked them to amend the definition to explicitly refer to the use of Google Search and not search engines in general. The council instead removed it entirely, they could have just ignored Google’s request. I doubt that Google would have an actual case for a lawsuit if they did.

      • Colin Mattson

        Actually, yes you do. Often. For exactly the same reason Google doesn’t like this.

        Adobe even has an entire page about proper use of their trademarks:

        http://www.adobe.com/misc/trade.html#section-4

      • http://www.nekofever.com/ Olly

        Clearly you’ve never been asked to enhance an image using Adobe® Photoshop® software.

    • Lukas

      Yep. It’s really not clear if Dalrymple is being facetious, or if he genuinely just doesn’t know, but Google needs to do that if they want to keep control of their own name.

    • Herding_sheep

      Exactly, just like Styrofoam too. People don’t even realize anymore that Styrofoam is actually a brand.

  • samdchuck

    Really Dalrymple? This is trademark protection 101. Your disdain of Google is getting a bit out of hand.

  • http://twitter.com/NWNirvana The Dictator

    So if Apple tries to protect it’s trademarks, they get pissed on by the Apple haters, but when Google does it, it’s okay. You anti-Apple zealots are the most pathetic people I’ve ever seen next to Tea Partiers.

  • Shawn Levasseur

    Why is there a Swedish Language Council anyway? Languages don’t get formed by committees (save for Esperanto and Klingon), but by the people who speak it.

    “Ogooglebar” is likely to still be used by Swedes anyway, proving this council’s phony baloney jobs are pointless.

    If someone wants to put the verb “google” or some variant in their dictionary, big deal. Trademark law only applies to a trademark’s category of products or services, not language. Trademark holders can prevent a competitor from using their trademark as a generic term, but the public at large is still free to do so, despite requests otherwise.

    • Anonymous

      The Language Council of Sweden doesn’t “form” the language, they keep track of it and how it develops. For example, we Swedes started using the word “Ogooglebar” to refer to something that you cannot find on the web, search engines be damned, and so the Language Council took note of the word and its usage and entered it into the annual list of new words. But Google didn’t like the definition we’ve given the word, thinking that it didn’t advertice the company enough, and so wanted to change its definition into “something that cannot be found using the Google search engines”, or, as a compromise, “something that cannot be found on the web using a search engine such as Google”.

      It’s the other way around: “Ogooglebar” is likely to still be used by Swedes anyway, proving Google’s efforts to ultimately pretty much just be about petty squabbling. On a related note: By choosing to omit the word instead of changing the definition of its common usage, the Language Council has stood up for the freedom of speech and have ultimately emphasized that a company is not supposed to have the power and influence toform our language (see your own first point).

      Apparently it IS a big deal. To Google, at least. And then they made it a big deal to the rest of Sweden by attempting to form (a word within) our language so it better suited their own company. Regardless, the Language Council, being pretty much just a group of volounteering language enthusiasts, doesn’t have the financal means to go to court with effin’ Google, so it wasn’t like they had “Winning the right to enter the word into the dictionary” as a viable option, anyway.