Dutch 'googelen' falls foul of Google
16 August 2006, AMSTERDAM — Internet search engine Google is not happy with the definition of the new Dutch verb 'googelen'.
16 August 2006
AMSTERDAM — Internet search engine Google is not happy with the definition of the new Dutch verb 'googelen'.
Updated editions of Dutch dictionaries use the trademark as a verb to describe any searching for information on the internet — regardless of the search engine used.
A victim of its own success, the US-based company argues the Dutch 'googelen', like 'to google' in English, should only be used in connection with the Google search engine.
It has sent a letter to media companies around the world to warn against incorrect use of the verb to "protect its trademark" and "prevent it becoming a generic term".
Google's letter includes helpful examples of appropriate and inappropriate use of the company's trademark. For example: "I used Google to check out that guy I met at the party" is fine, but "I googled that hottie" is not.
It is also acceptable to say: "he ego-surfs on Google to see if he's listed in the results" but not "he googles himself."
The key distinction is whether Google is used to describe searching in a general, non-specific sense. "With constant generic use, trademarks can lose their special status and their proper name capitalisation," said Google in the letter.
'Googelen' was first detected in the Dutch language in 2003. The latest edition of the 'Dikke van Dale' dictionary describes it as looking for information on the internet.
Editor-in-Chief Ton den Boon said on Tuesday that he had not received the letter from Google. "It is a well-known phenomenon that companies try to protect their brands in this way," he said laconically.
But Van Dale does not intend to alter its definition. "We describe contemporary Dutch. You, I, and everyone uses googelen in this sense," Den Boom said.
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]
Subject: Dutch news