Whats 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 to blend community with another application (e.g., search, shopping, etc.).
Here’s a post by Danny Sullivan (SEW) about a dispute between Judy’s Book and presumably Yahoo! regarding Judy’s Book’s asserted trademark over the term "social search." Judy’s Book 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 has been used for a few years with increasing frequency as the market has evolved.
Now Judy’s Book 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.
Judy’s Book, 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 the user experience it offers and the value it delivers to local advertisers (to which the company sells 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 … the value delivered to Ingenio’s advertisers and its partner distribution network will determine 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.