When a company develops an innovative new product, it’s natural for them to protect it. Protecting it might involve applying for a patent that covers the design or production method. It can also involve applying to register a name or slogan in connection with the invention.
That was exactly Google’s intention when they filed an application to register the trademark “GLASS” in 2013. GLASS refers to Google’s groundbreaking wearable computer. The device, which features an optical display that is mounted on the user’s head, is able to display data much like a smartphone does. However, the Google Glass is a hands free device. The device is operated entirely by voice commands.
The company has already registered the GOOGLE GLASS mark in connection with the device, but the second application for a stylized version of the single word GLASS has been stalled in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
When a trademark examiner reviewed the application, it was rejected on two grounds. The first is that the mark is merely descriptive. Namely, the mark is GLASS and the goods that it will be used on are glasses. Secondly, the trademark examiner argues that the applied for mark is too similar to other marks that are already registered for similar goods.
Counsel for Google responded to the Office action with an almost 2,000 page answer. The vast majority of the response was made up of approximately 1,900 articles that have been written about Google Glass. Essentially, submission of these articles is meant to demonstrate that Google Glass is already so well known that consumers will not confuse it with other products. In the response, the attorneys also argued that the product contains no actual glass and is composed mainly of plastic and titanium.
The USPTO has yet to respond to Google’s most recent filing. Time will tell if the answer filed by Google’s lawyers will convince the trademark examiner of the distinctiveness of the GLASS mark. Since it is a foregone conclusion that competitors will try to mimic Google’s innovations, the company is wise to vigorously pursue intellectual property rights.
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