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Mary Bellis

When a Brand Name Becomes Generic - Genericized Trademarks

By January 29, 2006

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Brand names become generic when they are so commonly used that people associate the brand name for every product of that type regardless of who manufacturers it, or who trademarked the name. The trademark becomes synonymous with a product. And while you would want your product to become that well known, a trademark can lose the right to registration and protection if it becomes generic. Did you that in Austria Sony lost its trademark registration for the Walkman? Here are a few examples of genericized trademarks.

  • The word Kleenex is now commonly used to describe any soft facial tissue. However, Kleenex is the trademarked name of the soft facial tissue manufactured and sold by the Kimberly-Clark Corporation.
  • Strategic marketing efforts thrust the Rollerblade brandname high into public awareness Skating enthusiasts began using Rollerblade as a generic term for all in-line skates, putting the trademark in jeopardy.
  • Dry Ice the name was trademarked by the first company to sell dry ice.
  • The British use the word Hoover to mean any vacuum cleaner
  • Other examples of genericized trademarks include: Band-Aid, Biro (British), escalator, aspirin, gramophone, linoleum and Scotch Tape

I found some very interesting articles on genericized trademarks on the internet.

Too Much of a Household Name gives this tip to trademark holders, "A trade mark should also never be used as a verb (you do not 'google' - you use the Google search engine)."

Has Your Brand Become Generic? discusses how SPAM, the word has taken on a new meaning as unwanted email. At first, SPAM's trademark owner, Hormel Foods, resisted. It challenged junk-email entrepreneur Sanford Wallace over his registration of the domain name "spamford.com" and his use of the SPAM product in publicity photographs.

Comments
February 25, 2009 at 11:59 pm
(1) werty says:

nice job

October 30, 2009 at 10:05 pm
(2) Winnie Conger says:

Is there a name for the process, when a brand name becomes the generic?

September 17, 2010 at 4:55 pm
(3) Ben says:

That’s actually what I was trying to find out when I stumbled upon this page. The best term I can think of is brand metonymy, but I swear I once learned a different term for it.

November 11, 2010 at 1:13 pm
(4) nomi says:

great job dear.. thanxx alot

November 11, 2010 at 1:14 pm
(5) nomi says:

nice job..!!

January 5, 2011 at 7:50 am
(6) kami says:

very nice information

January 5, 2011 at 7:51 am
(7) kami says:

greattttttttttttt

May 8, 2011 at 3:08 am
(8) Tedosan says:

When trademark protection is lost the word enters the “public domain,” and is known as a “genericized trademark,” meaning there are no longer any ownership rights or legal restrictions on its use. Perhaps the best example in America is “aspirin,” a trademark of Bayer, AG, a German corporation, that was lost as a consequence of World War 1 in the US, the UK and France, but not in the rest of the world.
A little research on the Net for lost trademarks will yield lists and stories of interest. Perhaps the most aggressive campaign to avoid trademark genericization was by Xerox, when they posted signs on all leased photocopiers declaring that the word “Xeroxing” was not a verb and that a Xerox was not a photocopy.
In contrast, in 1993, the L.A. Dodgers lost the trademark to the name “Brooklyn Dodgers” because they didn’t work on using it and protecting it. Lesson: Use it or lose it.

August 29, 2011 at 6:09 pm
(9) Tom Foolry says:

Yeah, you make some really good points there. I had thought of another brand that was like that while I read the article but I forgot it! ADD moment! Anywho’s, it’s important that companies develop their brand dna effectively to prevent this from happening

March 2, 2012 at 6:29 pm
(10) Nana says:

Eponyms are far more common in American culture than in other countries, even if they sell the same name brand (e.g., in Australia, we purchased facial tissues, cotton swabs, and cell[ophane] tape).

May 2, 2012 at 10:08 am
(11) Fipacannarf says:

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May 20, 2012 at 2:40 pm
(12) pozycjonowanie6 says:

Hey
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As the Flames lick the continual eager night-time welkin with snaps of ecstasy, the air warms and becomes quite keen and pleasant. Therefore, there is no requisite during snow shovels & snow blowers in Hell.
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February 19, 2013 at 9:18 am
(13) Katie says:

The name for the process of a trademark becoming generic is genericide.

March 8, 2014 at 8:24 am
(14) Vida says:

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will manage far better with problems inside a social sphere, specifically in health protection and educational system, compared to a man.
The IQ test is the better known instance of norm-referenced
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