Google’s Proposed ‘Glass’ Trademark Hits Roadblock With USPTO

April 3, 2014 - Written By Eric Abent

We’ve all heard this story before: a company tries to trademark a common word and the Internet collectively chimes in about how silly it seems. For rather obvious reasons, Google has been trying to trademark the phrase “Glass” and the formatting it’s been using in advertising for the device, but instead of receiving a pushback from consumers, this time the United States Patent and Trademark Office is taking issue with the trademark application. That doesn’t seem like it bodes very well for Google, which would prefer to call its highly anticipated wearable device “Glass” instead of “Google Glass.”

The USPTO has two issues in particular with Google’s trademark application. The first is that software trademarks using the word glass already exist, which the USPTO fears could cause confusion among consumers. Since trademarks kind of exist to avoid that very problem, it’s easy to see why the USPTO has an issue here. The USPTO also seems to think that “Glass” would be a descriptive trademark for the device, and descriptive trademarks generally aren’t allowed.

However, if you know Google, you know that the company isn’t going to give up that easily. In an effort to convince the USPTO that it’s wrong on both fronts, Google’s lawyers have offered up a 1,900 page letter to regulators within the organization. A very large portion of that letter consists of clippings from articles covering Google Glass, which is meant to show that there wouldn’t be much in the way of consumer confusion should Google get the trademark it wants. Just as well, Google’s lawyers have been arguing that “Glass” is not a descriptive trademark since the device is actually made of titanium and plastic, noting too that the word “Glass” is not meant to inform consumers of the function of the smart glasses.

Those are fairly decent arguments on the part of Google’s lawyers, because with so much coverage devoted to Glass already, it’s hard to believe there would be much confusion among technophiles like most of the people who read this website. That’s the rub though, isn’t it? It’s easy for people like us to say there won’t be any confusion when it comes to Google’s wearable device, but for mainstream consumers, that may not be the case. We’ll have to wait and see what the USPTO ultimately decides, but you can bet that Google is going to fight tooth and nail to get this trademark. Stay tuned.