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.