What’s in a Name(TM)?

Almost everyone is using the term “social search” to describe a rash of “Web 2.0 — style” offerings (whether product features or new sites) that try and blend community with another application (e.g., search, shopping, etc.).

Here’s a post by Danny Sullivan (SEW) about a dispute between Judysbook and (presumably Yahoo!) regarding Judysbook’s trademark of the term “social search.” Judysbook has been granted the registered trademark to the term

As Danny suggests in his post, “social search” is a little like a “generic term” that is widely used and has been used for a few years with increasing frequency as the market has evolved.

Now Judysbook can send “cease and desist” letters to the host of companies directly or indirectly using the term in their marketing. If they do it won’t necessarily do anything for them; however if they get a lot of coverage on this story that might be good for their consumer awareness.

Judysbook, which is run by smart people, will sink or swim not on the marketing value of the term “social search,” but on the merits of their user experience and the value that they’re delivering to local advertisers (to which they sell phone leads, otherwise know as “pay per [phone] call.”)

Speaking of which, the term “pay per call” has been TM’d by Ingenio. So everyone else in the phone leads business needs to use another term — and they’re starting to.

In the PPCall arena there might be a few more (marketing) reasons (than in “social search”) to assert trademark rights over “pay per call.” Yet, again, whether a service is called “pay per call,” “pay per phone call,” “phone leads,” “performance calls,” whatever . . .it’s going to be the ultimate value delivered to Ingenio’s advertisers and its partner distribution network that determines whether the company achieves its ultimate business objectives.

“Google” and “Yahoo!” are essentially nonsense terms that have become mega-brands because of what they actually do and deliver for people.

In fact, if you start a company today and you want your brand and your URL to be the same you have to “make up a word,” as Richard Barton, CEO of new real estate site Zillow, told me today (more on Zillow later).

Somebody needs to write a piece about all the distorted names and brands of new companies out there because all the URLs are taken. Case-in-point: Here’s another new (health) search engine: Kosmix.

One Response to “What’s in a Name(TM)?”

  1. Screenwerk » Blog Archive » Yahoo! Local Provides ‘Answers’ Says:

    […] Yahoo! is starting to reap the benefits of its multi-faceted “social search” strategy and it could pay long-term dividends for the company. User-generated recommendations and referrals are uneven but often of very high quality or at least unique. That’s because this is information (online word of mouth) that might not be available through search or otherwise online at all. […]

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