Trademark saga: Google tries to register the word "Glass", the USPTO says "No!"


It seems that Google and the USPTO might not agree upon a certain trademark application, filed by the Mountain View-based colossus. Although Google already received a trademark for the term ”Google Glass” last year, the company now wants to patent "Glass" as well.

However, the patent institution is not inclined to grant it, because it's a generic term. Additionally, several other companies already hold pending or existing trademarks that contain the same word – Write On Glass, LOOKING GLASS, GLASS3D, iGLASS, SMARTGLASS, TELEGLASS and many others are already registered with the USPTO.

The institution stated that many consumers might get confused with the many similar-sounding names if Google trademarks the term "Glass". In its own defense, Google claimed that it'ss trademark filing comes with easily recognizable "distinctive formatting", but the USPTO fired back and made it clear that the formatting is "merely descriptive".

However, Google did not accept this defeat and sent a 1,928-page letter to the patent institution, in which it described why "Glass" has already been established as a recognizable brand in the tech world. Yet again, the trademark application was denied, because “the frame and display components of the Glass device do not consist of glass at all,” but of titanium and plastic instead.

There is a possibility that Google wants to promote its wearable to the wide public as Glass instead of Google Glass. Of course, the company is free to do so, but it would be significantly harder to protect the name of the gadget if it's not trademarked with the USPTO.

This dispute reminds us of Candy Crush Saga's developer, King - the game developer tried to trademark the generic word "candy" several months ago. This stirred a negative media backlash and King withdrew its application with the USPTO after a while. Still, the company succeeded in trademarking “candy” in the European Union.

What are your thoughts on the matter? Are you rooting with Google or the USPTO on the “Glass” trademark saga?


source: Wall Street Journal (1), (2) via Gizmodo

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50 Comments

50. express77 unregistered

this is worse than those horrible apple patents. and candy is trademarked in EU. seriously? is this the law? these patent trolling companies and patent granting troll offices should be punished. and we finally know that google is no better than apple in patent trolling. thankfully, they have less patents(than others).

44. decent4u

Posts: 75; Member since: Apr 26, 2012

If apple files for this patent they would have even given the name google glass to them. Even so it looks like they are coming to their senses. But what about the blunders they have already made

33. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

the trademark application was denied, because “the frame and display components of the Glass device do not consist of glass at all,” but of titanium and plastic instead. Maybe I'm not following this, but there are many different forms of eyeware that have no glass in them and are referred to as "glasses". Safety glasses spring to mind. Most all are made of a shatter resistant poly carbonate, but they're not called safety poly carbohydrates or safety plastics, they're called safety glasses. The reason the term glasses are used is because they resemble and function similarly to eyeware that used glass in the past. The USPTO seems to be taking a rather literal view of things. Would they also deny a patent for magic dice because they don't have magic in them?

28. papss unregistered

More Apple obsessed fandroids... There's more Apple talk than Google talk and it's about Google lol cracks me up.. I deal with this daily in real life.. folks instead would rather deflect something wrong to someone else.. man up and admit that glass is laughable that shouldn't and can't be trademarked

30. Slammer

Posts: 1515; Member since: Jun 03, 2010

You are misunderstanding the point when making a comment like yours. We are dealing with trademarking names. As silly as Glass is, Apple has been allowed to trademark names of equal silliness. Hatred toward the USPTO is more in line with the rants here. We are comparing the allowences vs what is not allowed. John B.

27. Slammer

Posts: 1515; Member since: Jun 03, 2010

Apple should have many of its trademarks revoked. Checking the list of Apple's trademarks, gives indication that the USPTO has no clue of what they've allowed or not allowed. Apple has a long list of "trademarked" names. Many are singular, generalized names such as Chicago, Carbon, Airport. The list is expansive with these types of common names. So while I agree that generalized names should not be trademarked, Why no to Google for "Glass", yet yes to Apple for "Airport?" John B.

39. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

Link to where you found it?

42. Slammer

Posts: 1515; Member since: Jun 03, 2010

Google "List of Apple trademarks". Then scroll to the article written bywww.theguardian.com. John B.

25. InspectorGadget80 unregistered

I think the USPTO must be smoking too much crack not giving FCC approval. and still taking free money products from Apple

15. boosook

Posts: 1442; Member since: Nov 19, 2012

Oh, but "Windows" or "Word" were OK...

17. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

Actually it is Microsoft Windows and the trademark is specific. Hence trademark vs patent. Here is more info: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/legal/intellectualproperty/Trademarks/Usage/Windows.aspx

11. ProblemSolver15

Posts: 372; Member since: Jun 14, 2010

I think Google knew they couldn't get this passed and approved, but it doesn't hurt to try. The worst that can happen is they say no. No harm, no foul. Move along folks, nothing to see here. Lol

10. shuaibhere

Posts: 1986; Member since: Jul 07, 2012

This is so ridiculous from google... is this a real change from USTPO or it is that because the company is google not apple???

16. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

It is because, glass is to generic, it is because there is no glass in it at all, it is because, names already exist with glass. rectangle with rounded corners. What geometry word is there that describes such a thing other than 'rectangle with rounded corners'? What company has produced a consistent, design style with those specifications, and what company had a patent that resembled that before apple? I hate defending apple, but it was not about being inconsistent, it is because glass in some shape or form is already patented, as per the reason for denial, and its not even glass to begin with. I am sure glass makers would love that.

22. Finalflash

Posts: 4063; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

Are you mentally retarded or something? A rounded rectangle or as you describe it 'rectangle with rounded corners" is a shape known about since the dawn of time. It has been a shape in photoshop and illustrator and MS paint even since they discovered it in the ancient Egyptian era. It has been the form of "every" mobile phone since mobile phones were invented. Go look at the most cheapest feature phone, you will notice that it is probably a rounded rectangle. Aside from that, the PTO will grant "candy" as a trademark for retarded King and Candy Crush Saga, but this is where they said "ummm no....". The inconsistency is what makes it irritating in this case, not that it should be granted but then why grant it for others. Seems like someone is playing favorites at the PTO.

35. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

@Final... Great for the history lesson of nothing, you did not provide the word for geometry shape. Nor did you provide any company that has solely relied on rectangle with rounded corners as something you will recognize when you think of "insert company name here". I agree with you, trust me, i think it is a dumb patent, but as stated, it is alot different imo, as much as i hate to say it, than 'glass'.

37. Finalflash

Posts: 4063; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

That is what the geometric shape is called, a rounded rectangle. Compound words are allowed as names of things and just like an isosceles triangle is a type of triangle, that is its name and classification. Also, it does not matter if any company relied solely on that object as their design, it has already been used. It is like me saying I will now exclusive sit on chairs only and therefore, I will now patent chairs because it is what people will think of when they think chair. PS: I think the squircle, comes closest to a rounded rectangle in one word (not kidding, that is what they call it).

48. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

No and no and no, I can show why all those mentioned are fails including rounded square short answer math. Long answer... thank my note 3 for swallowing it. You don't know what a ornamental design patent is, I could argue it, but in the end you think the patent goes to all things rectangle with rounded corners, and that's how I know you don't understand the patent or how it is used. If you want me to reply I will but right now its all hot air

32. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

I agree the word glass is generic. I don't think anyone here is arguing otherwise. But if you read on, they are trying to trademark the design of the letters of that word. If the picture in the article is the design they wanted to patent, that isn't a generic design. Where else have you seen the word glass that looked like that. There's a specific font there. And that's apparently what they were trying to trademark, the word in that design or font, not the word by itself.

38. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

You can trademark a font, but that is not what google was wanting, they wanted the name glass. There is nothing wrong with font trademark. And when you file for trade marks it specifically asks for font. Will have to look at it more, i highly doubt they just wanted a font trademark though, they wanted a word trademark.

43. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

So you're saying they can't trademark a word in a certain font? As long as they always use the two together, I see no reason why they couldn't trademark the combination of the two. I'm sure car manufacturers like Pontiac and Dodge have their names trademarked, but there are other uses for those words as well. I'm not saying they should get a trademark for the word glass only. I'm saying that the only way they should get it is with the stipulation that anytime they refer to Glass, it must be in that font. If someone else wants to use the word Glass in a different font, they should be allowed as well. What I believe Google's going for is brand recognition of the word glass with that font.

49. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

You can I didn't say that, I have to read more onto what they tried but I highly doubt it was just the font+word combo, we trade marked Ares, Wargames and the font together for a business now gone. So yes you can but I highly doubt it was just that.

52. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

In its own defense, Google claimed that it'ss trademark filing comes with easily recognizable "distinctive formatting", but the USPTO fired back and made it clear that the formatting is "merely descriptive". That is why I was saying that. Distinctive formatting to me would mean the font used, but the USPTO said it was merely descriptive. The same could be said for any font, like cursive, helvetica, Gothic, etc. This is where I think the USPTO has erred. That could invalidate a lot of trademarks who have a trademarked word that is common but the design or font separates it from the common word. The same could be said for King trying to trademark the words candy and saga. As long as they trademarked those words in the font they used for candy crush saga, they should've been fine. The problem there is, they were trying to trademark the words themselves, which doesn't fly. I hope that better clarifies my perspective.

9. papss unregistered

I love the defective comments lol... This article is about Google trademarking glass which would be crazy..it's okay fanboys.. I know you can't say anything bad about Google so instead deflect to Apple.... Yes USPTO has been inconsistent

31. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

I can't speak for others, but I agree and disagree with the trademark office. No, they shouldn't be able to patent a generic word like glass, same as King shouldn't have been able to trademark words like candy or saga. But I disagree about them wanting to trademark the word glass in a certain font or design. Coke is a clear example. They trademarked not only their bottles, but the design of the lettering for the words coke and coca cola. One could argue that the design of those words on the bottle was merely descriptive as well. And while those words aren't necessarily generic, I'd bet if someone put a different word in white with a red background and the same letter design, they'd be getting a c&d letter from Coke's lawyers. So while I agree they shouldn't be trademarking generic words, I see no problem with them trademarking a specific design or logo for said word.

8. Antimio

Posts: 313; Member since: Nov 11, 2013

Google tries to register the word "Glass", the USPTO says "No!" Apple tries to register a "rectangle with rounded corners", the USPTO says "Yeah Baby! Take it!"

14. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

Because technically there is no predefined word or shape with rectangle with rounded corners. While i think it is silly, in the end as a consistent design throughout their OS, then yes. It is not like they patented rectangle with round corners, then put out oval designs. unlike glass, no one had it patented, no one used the term, no one layed claim, no one had a design specific that its whole concept was built around it. Not to mention google's glass has no glass in it at all, and the name part has been trademark in partial to it.

21. Antimio

Posts: 313; Member since: Nov 11, 2013

Well, it's not only the rounded-corner thing. There's so many stupid patents awarded and that makes me think it's just too much for some companies. Bullying shouldn't be confused as defending.

47. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

I don't think you know what a ornamental design patent is. I am assuming you think you know, but truly don't. It does not cover any rounded corners, the design must meet some similar size shape and likeness. It is why a table can never be used against or the tablet I am on or the TV....etc. It is to prevent a near copy in attempt to steal your sales from a like representation of your product. I am crazy that I am defending apple but glass is not the same since it's name is beyond a recognizable shape but a word used daily. Sorry I don't see millions going about, give me water in a translucent silicon based cylinder...... dun dun dunnnnnnnnnnn

7. pixel8or

Posts: 84; Member since: Jun 10, 2010

USPTO is saving it for Apple.

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