Genericized Brand Names

Is it a blessing, or a curse, when a brand name is so popular it becomes the generic term?

Some brand names are so genericized that no one thinks anything about it, like Kleenex – a trademark of Kimberly-Clark, but if it’s not a branded box of Kleenex it’s a facial tissue. In the Southern United States, where I live, a pop or a soda is known as a Coke. Some of the following may (or may not) surprise you.

First, let’s talk about names that were originally legally protected but have since become the common names. For various reasons these items have been determined, by courts, to have become generic and may be freely used by consumers and manufacturers. Aspirin is a trademark of Bayer but determined in the US to be generic.

Cellophane is a trademark of Innovia Films Ltd. and formally Dupont, Dry Ice is a trademark of Dry Ice Corp. in 1925, Flip Phone is a trademark of Motorola, Laundromat is a trademark of Westinghouse in the 1940’s, Trampoline is a trademark of Griswold-Nissen Trampoline & Tumbling Co. and Videotape is a trademark of Ampex Corp.

The second kind is former trademarks that have become generic due to non-renewal, improper issuance or abandonment. Apple’s App Store is one of these. Apple initially sued Amazon over the term but abandoned the lawsuit. Another is Dumpster which is a cancelled 1937 trademark by Dempster Brothers.

Touch-tone was formerly a trademark of AT&T, Yo-Yo is still a trademark of Papa’s Toy Co Ltd but was determined to be illegally issued, Zip Code is one that has expired and Zipper was a trademark of B.F. Goodrich for use in rubber boots.

Now the protected trademarks frequently used (many by me). Allen Wrench (I had no idea) is trademark Apex Tool Company, AstroTurf is a trademark of Monsanto Company (formerly),
AstroTurf, LLC, Band-Aid (I knew this one but still use it freely) is a Monsanto Company (formerly),
AstroTurf, LLC of Johnson & Johnson,

Chapstick (everyone does this) is a Monsanto Company (formerly),
AstroTurf, LLC of GlaxoSmithKline, Coke (a southern US thing) is a trademark of Coca-Cola Co., Crock-Pot (I was unaware of this) is a trademark of Sunbeam Products, Dremel (what we call all rotary tools) is a trademark of Robert Bosch GmbH, Freon is a trademark of DuPont, Hacky Sack (had no idea) is a trademark of Wham-O, Hula-Hoop (again, had no idea) also a trademark of Wham-O, Jet Ski is a trademark of Kawasaki,

Kleenex (I knew this one but have used it all my life) is a trademark of Kimberly-Clark), Lava Lamp (would have never guessed this one) is a trademark of Mathmos, Liquid Paper (I knew this , even did a post on it you can read here) is a trademark of Newell Brands, Memory Stick (flash memory storage) is a trademark of Sony,

Plexiglass (I had no idea) is a trademark of Altuglas International, Rohm & Haas (formerly), Popsicle (never knew this one either) is a trademark of Good Humor-Breyers, Post-it (I knew this but always guilty of using it) is a trademark of 3M, Putt-Putt golf (I think everyone is guilty of this one) is a trademark of Putt-Putt Fun Center (1954), Q-tips (always use this one too) is a trademark of Unilever,

Rollerblade is a trademark of Nordica, Romex (sheathed cable, I hear lot’s of folks using this term) is a trademark of Southwire Co., Scotch Tape (guilty) is a trademark of 3M, Styrofoam (didn’t know this one) is a trademark of The Dow Chemical Company (1947), Super Glue (I did a previous post on this that you can read here),

Thermos (had no idea, always have used this) is a trademark of Thermos LLC, Tupperware (my mom used to have Tupperware parties -my friend Kelly used this one during the week) is a trademark of Earl Tupper, Vaseline (another one that everyone uses for petroleum jelly) is a trademark of Unilever, Velcro (another that I knew but still use) is a trademark of Velcro Co., Walkman (guilty) is a trademark of Sony Corp.,

Xerox (this is an older one, but people used to use it instead of the word “copy”, like “I need to Xerox these pages”) is a trademark of Xerox Corp. and Ziploc ( a lot of people use this for a zipper storage bag) is a trademark of SC Johnson. There are a bunch more, check out one list (that I used) on Wikipedia. There is also a nice list on Mentalfloss.com. Some of these are probably more regional than others explaining why some don’t seem plausible.

Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

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