Geek Discussion: As Use Of The Word “Geek” Skyrockets, Best Buy Is Watching Closely
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It’s no secret that use of the word “geek” has evolved from being somewhat derogatory into something of a medal of honor without and specific meaning. Many think of it as someone who’s very much into science fiction and fantasy genre movies, TV shows, and games. But we here at Geeks of Doom like to think being a geek now means that an individual is incredibly passionate and knowledgeable about something. You can be the traditional geek, a tech geek, a heavy metal geek, a food geek, and the list goes on and on and on. It’s surely come a long way since its time as a high school clique consisting of computer nerds, this much is for sure.

But no matter what your own definition of the word might be, as “geek” continues to evolve and gain popularity in everyday usage, it was only a matter of time before it also attracted some not-so-pleasant attention in the process.

Be sure to keep reading for much more and to see a video related to the discussion!

In a very interesting new article from The Wall Street Journal, it’s revealed that retail juggernaut Best Buy has recently been keeping a very keen eye on the internet and how the word “geek” is being used. This, of course, being because of their Geek Squad, a service they offer that sends out highly trained individuals in well-recognized Volkswagen Beetles to help with fixing, setting up, and installing various electronic items and equipment.

In the report, multiple outlets who use the word “geek” in one way or another””including Rent a Geek, Geek Rescue, and Speak With A Geek””claim that Best Buy has disputed their use of the word, and many are calling the company’s actions “trademark bullying,” implying that they want to lay claim to the word as their own property.

One of the recent cases involves a site called Newegg, who also happen to play in the electronics sandbox and have something called “Geek On.” Best Buy claims that they aren’t just after anyone who uses the word “geek,” but that Newegg’s usage involved the same black and orange color scheme that was a little too similar. Also, Newegg ran a commercial recently involving employees at a store wearing blue shirts that weren’t helpful before promoting their own offerings, which probably does not help their case.

Unfortunately for Best Buy, their dispute with Newegg has led half-a-million people to head over to YouTube to check out the commercial in question, surely helping Newegg to score some new business.

While it sounds like Best Buy might have a grudge with Newegg, some other instances are a little more questionable. They sent a letter to Reverend Luke Strand in Wisconsin, who had slapped “God Squad” on the side of VW Beetle to lighten the mood in his ministries. Clearly a take on Best Buy’s Geek Squad, Strand thought there would be no problem because it wasn’t for profit, saying “I was extremely surprised. We were just doing this as a way to spread the gospel in a humorous way.” To ease the blow, Best Buy did grab the Strand’s legal bills.

Another wasn’t so lucky back in 2004 when Best Buy brought a lawsuit to a company called Geek Housecalls. The small repair company owned by Dave Ehlke won the case, but the cost of defending himself was far too large for a small business to have to swallow.

And so the discussion begins. Is Best Buy using their size to bully people using the word “geek” into submission in hopes of owning the word as much as legally possible, or does the company have a fair business right to protect their claim by sending these cease-and-desist letters to anyone using “geek” in similar businesses or their image in similar ways?



  1. Hmm interesting, corporations will attempt to change words for their marketability all day, but nerd words have more to do with small group use than global use. Star Trek Nerds use different slang than Battlestar nerds just like… non-nerds in California use different slang than non-nerds in New York.

    Personally i choose not to use the word ‘geek’ even though i visit GoD about every day, because i am familiar with it as a derogatory term. Not like i would take offense to someone calling me one, but i feel like ‘geek’ is a word used by non-nerds to describe nerds. I think the derogatory bit is removed when someone uses geek or nerd in conjunction with a category… like a sci-fi geek or something. Geek squad is not making the word geek cooler or more acceptible, it’s just using it in the creation of a brand. It’s not like intel made us all craaaazy about saying intel instead of intelligence. . . or did it?

    . . . My . . God.


    Comment by Nick J Zakhar — June 24, 2011 @ 12:10 am

  2. And as usual the united states government continue to bend over to these companies and let them get away with anything.

    Comment by Anonymous — June 24, 2011 @ 4:49 pm

  3. Corporations are always trying to copyright things that they have no right to copyright. Words are a part of the language, which everyone is entitled to and everyone speaks, and no one can appropriate parts of a form of communication common to us all. If they wish to copyright the phrase “Geek Squad’ or the logo, I have no problem, but the word Geek does not belong to them. It’s like copyrighting someone’s rare gene (which the pharmaceutical companies have already done, btw…imagine someone being sued for having a particular gene?)

    Besides, the conflict shouldn’t even be about the word in the first place. It seems like Best Buy is trying to outdo their competition, and they’re particularly targeting companies that use the word Geek. Considering that the Geek Squad is way expensive and takes a really long time, perhaps they should bother improving their surface instead of chasing down other people who might legitimately be providing better services?

    Comment by Anastasia Klimchynskaya — July 8, 2011 @ 6:13 pm

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