List of generic and genericized trademarks

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[edit] List of former trademarks that have become generic terms

The following list contains marks which were originally legally protected trademarks, but which have subsequently lost legal protection as trademarks by becoming the common name of the relevant product or service, as used both by the consuming public and commercial competitors. Some marks retain trademark protection in certain countries despite being declared generic in others.

[edit] List of protected trademarks frequently used as generic terms

Marks in this list are still legally protected as trademarks, but are sometimes used by consumers in a generic sense. Unlike the names in the list above, these names are still widely known by the public as brand names, and are not used by competitors. Scholars disagree as to whether the use of a recognized trademark name for similar products can truly be called "generic", or if it is instead a form of synechdoche.[23] The previous list contains trademarks that have lost their legal status in some countries, while the following list contains marks which have been registered as trademarks, continue in use, and are actively enforced by their trademark owners. Writing guides such as the AP Stylebook advise writers to "use a generic equivalent unless the trademark is essential to the story."

Trademark or Brand Name Generic name Trademark owner Notes
Band-Aid Adhesive bandage Johnson & Johnson Often used as though generic by consumers in the U.S., though still legally trademarked.[23]
Biro Ballpoint pen Société Bic Used generically in colloquial British and Australian English, particular for cheaper disposable pens, but remains a registered trademark.[24]
Coke Cola, soft drink, pop, soda The Coca-Cola Company Popularly used in the Southern United States to refer to any soft drink; still a trademark.[25] Also used for rival brands of cola (e.g., Pepsi) elsewhere, such as in the UK.[citation needed]
Crock-Pot slow cooker Rival Industries "Crock pot" and "crockpot" are common synonyms used by cooks to describe any slow cooker.[26]
Durex adhesive tape (Australia) 3M In Australia, used as a generic name for adhesive tape.[24]
condoms (UK) London Rubber Industries In the UK, a brand of condom, which is often used generically.[27]
Dumpster waste receptacle Dumpster brand
Elastoplast Adhesive bandage Elastoplast (Company) Used in commonwealth countries as an all-encapsulating name for Adhesive Bandages.[28]
Formica Wood or plastic laminate Formica Corporation, part of Fletcher Building Widely used for the generic product. An attempt to have the trademark quashed failed in 1977.[29]
Google As a verb, to use a web search engine Google Often used by users and in the media as if it were a generic verb "to search the Internet" in the U.S., but still a legally recognized trademark.[30]
Hoover Vacuum cleaner The Hoover Company Widely used as a noun and verb.[29] De facto loss of trademark in the UK.[30]
Kleenex Facial tissue Kimberly-Clark Often used by consumers as if it were generic in the U.S., but still a legally recognized trademark.[23]
Netbook Class of portable computers Psion Registered as a trademark by for the Psion Netbook product, but now is being challenged for cancellation as generic by Dell, who claims that netbook refers to an entire class of portable computers.[31]
Onesies Infant bodysuit Gerber Products Company Often used by consumers in the U.S. as if it were generic; "Onesies" still a legally trademarked brand name of Gerber, which objects to its usage in the singular form as "Onesie" or as a generic product name.[32]
Photoshop Photo manipulation Adobe Systems Commonly used as a verb to generically describe digital manipulation or compositing of photographs.[33]
Powerpoint Presentations Microsoft Used to refer to "presentation graphics" or a "slideshow presentation" created on software such as Microsoft PowerPoint, Apple Keynote, OpenOffice Impress, Google Docs Presentations, etc. [34]
Q-tips Cotton swabs Unilever Often used by consumers as if it were generic in the U.S., but still a legally recognized trademark.[35]
Rollerblade Inline skates Nordica Commonly used name by consumers in the U.S.,[citation needed] but the name is still a trademark. [36]
Scotch tape Clear adhesive tape (US) 3M Appears in dictionaries as both generic and trademarked.[37] "Trademark Law" advises that proper usage is "Scotch brand cellophane tape" to combat "generic tendencies".[38]
Sellotape Clear adhesive tape (UK) The Sellotape Company, owned by Henkel Consumer Adhesives Often used generically as a verb and noun.[39][40][41] Appears in dictionaries as both generic and trademarked.[42]
Sharpie permanent marker Sanford L.P., owned by Newell Rubbermaid James Faulkner, Sanford's marketing manager has said "In America the Sharpie name is used as the generic for a permanent marker".[43]
Styrofoam extruded polystyrene foam Dow Chemical Company In the United States, "styrofoam" is often used as a generic term for disposable foam cups, plates, coolers and packing material, although these are made from a different polystyrene product than true Styrofoam™ Brand Foam,[44] which is made for thermal insulation and craft applications.[45]
Taser Electroshock weapon Taser Systems
Taser International
Acronym for a fictional weapon: Thomas A. Swift's Electric Rifle.[46] Taser is a registered tradename, prompting a backformed verb "to tase" which means "to use a Taser on", although "to taser" is also commonly used.
Tippex Correction fluid Tipp-Ex Taken in Europe (especially Germany, France, and The UK) as meaning white liquid applied with a brush used to hide mistakes written on typed with ink so they can be overwritten.[47]
Vaseline Petroleum jelly, petrolatum Unilever Often used by consumers as if it were generic in the U.S., but still a legally recognized trademark.[35]
Velcro Hook-and-loop fastener Velcro company Used as generic, but still trademarked.[48] Often used as a verb.[49]
Xerox Photocopier or to make a photocopy Xerox Xerox has used "trademark awareness" advertisements to prevent the brand from becoming a generic noun or verb, including such statements as "You can't make a Xerox."[50]

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ Aspirin FAQs, Bayer HealthCare website, accessed February 23, 2008
  2. ^ Cellophane – Definitions from
  3. ^ Mills, Turansky, & Griffith
  4. ^ dry ice. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000
  5. ^ Dry Ice – Who Invented Dry Ice?
  6. ^ Human Interest
  7. ^ heroin – Definitions from
  8. ^ Online Etymology Dictionary
  9. ^ kerosene – Definitions from
  10. ^ Jaffe v. Evans & Sons, Ltd., U.S. (New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department March 21, 1902).
  11. ^ linoleum. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000
  12. ^ mimeograph. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000
  13. ^ "Pilates Trademark Lawsuit makes "Pilates" available for public use". Retrieved on 2008-01-24. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ King-Seeley Thermos Co. v. Aladdin Indus., Inc., 321 F.2d 577 (2d Cir. 1963); see also this PDF
  16. ^ "Centrex Service". Retrieved on 2008-01-24. 
  17. ^ Inventor of the Week: Archive
  18. ^ West View Trampoline Community – Trampoline History
  19. ^ [1]
  20. ^ "Merriam-Webster FAQ". Retrieved on 2008-01-24. 
  21. ^ Donald F. Duncan, Inc. v. Royal Tops Mfg. Co., 343 F.2d 655 (7th Cir. 1965)
  22. ^ zipper – Definitions from
  23. ^ a b c Butters, Ronald R. and Jennifer Westerhaus. "Linguistic change in words one owns: How trademarks become 'generic'" in Studies in the History of the English Language II, Anne Curzan and Kimberly Emmons, eds. Walter de Gruyter, 2004 Retrieved August 21, 2008
  24. ^ a b Room, Adrian (1983). Dictionary of Trade Name Origins. Routledge. ISBN 0710201745. 
  25. ^ In the South, a 'coke' could be a Pepsi, accessed August 17, 2008
  26. ^ "Is Slow Cooker Synonymous with Crock-Pot?". Food News Service. Retrieved on 2008-01-24. 
  27. ^ Timothy R. L., Black (1972), "A survey of contraceptive markets in four African countries", Journal of Biosocial Science 4: 297-298 
  28. ^ on Elastoplasts
  29. ^ a b Lowa, John; Keith Bloisb (2002). "The evolution of generic brands in industrial markets: the challenges to owners of brand equity". Industrial Marketing Management 31 (5): 385–392. doi:10.1016/S0019-8501(00)00131-0. 
  30. ^ a b "Google calls in the 'language police'". BBC News. BBC. 20 June 2003. Retrieved on 2008-08-23. 
  31. ^ Cancellation pending at PTO office
  32. ^ "Gerber Childrenswear Brand Usage". Gerber Childrenswear official website. Retrieved on 2009-04-13. 
  33. ^ The Photoshopping Of The President
  34. ^ Talk and comments on the talk of the genericisation of "PowerPoint" at
  35. ^ a b List of Unilever products, accessed August 26, 2008
  36. ^ U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (Filed July 15, 1984). "Trademark Applications and Registrations Retrieval". Retrieved on 2007-02-25. 
  37. ^ Barnhart, Clarence Lewis (1974). The World Book Dictionary. Field Enterprises Educational Corp.. p. 1850. ISBN 071660275X.  Scotch tape: 1. a transparent, cellophane, adhesive tape for mending, patching, sealing, etc.
  38. ^ Kane, Siegrun D. (2002). Trademark law: a practitioner's guide. Practising Law Institute. p. 5-15. ISBN 1402402279. 
  39. ^ "Sellotape looks to television to strengthen diluted brand name". Campaign. 25 April 2003. Retrieved on 2008-08-25. 
  40. ^ Dick, Matthew (2004). "Why you must never Sellotape a Xerox into your Filofax". The Journal of Brand Management 11: 509–513. doi:10.1057/ 
  41. ^ "A brief history of sticky tape". BBC News. BBC. 7 July 2003. Retrieved on 2008-08-25. 
  42. ^ The Chambers dictionary. London: Chambers. 1993. ISBN 0-550-10255-8. 
  43. ^ Smith, Jane. "Mark Our Words!". USP Magazine. 
  44. ^ Dow Craft Site, "Professional Craft Designers Design Purchase Programs/FAQs," accessed Nov. 24, 2008.
  45. ^ Dow Craft Site, "Responsible Living and STYROFOAM™ Brand Foam", accessed Nov.popopopopopo 24, 2008.
  46. ^ "Company Trivia". TASER International, Inc.. Retrieved on 2008-09-04. 
  47. ^ on Tipp-Ex
  48. ^ Freeman, Allyn; Bob Golden (September 1997). Why Didn't I Think of That: Bizarre Origins of Ingenious Inventions We Couldn't Live Without. Wiley. pp. pp.99-pp.104. ISBN 0471165115. Retrieved on 2008-05-09. 
  49. ^ "Velcro." The Oxford English Dictionay. 2nd ed. 1989.
  50. ^ Ginsburg 2001, pp. 317-318, 322

[edit] References

  • Ginsburg, Jane C.; Litman, Jessica; Kevlin, Mary L. (2001), Trademark and Unfair Competition Law (3rd ed.), New York, NY: Foundation Press 
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