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Elliot v. Google Inc.

45 F. Supp. 3d 1156 (2014)

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Elliot v. Google Inc.

United States District Court for the District of Arizona

45 F. Supp. 3d 1156 (2014)

Facts

David Elliot (plaintiff) used a domain-name registrar to acquire numerous domain names that combined the word google with brands (e.g., googledisney.com), people (e.g., googlebarackobama.com), places (e.g., googlemexicocity.com), and various generic terms (e.g., googlenewtvs.com). Google Incorporated (defendant), which owned two registered trademarks for its eponymous search engine, filed a complaint requesting transfer of the domain names pursuant to the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy, which was incorporated by reference into the domain-name registrar’s terms of use. Elliot then sued Google, seeking cancellation of the two trademarks on the grounds that they had become generic terms referring indiscriminately to Internet searching without regard to the search engine used. Dictionary definitions consistently mentioned the trademark significance of the term google but also established that the word carried meaning as an indiscriminate verb. Google’s usage of the term likewise reflected occasional use in the indiscriminate sense. There was no evidence of competitors’ usages of the term as the common, descriptive term for Internet search engines. Elliot and Google filed cross-motions for summary judgment.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (McNamee, J.)

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