Genericized Trademarks – Does The List Keep Growing?

On February 21, 2013, in Trademarks, by Brian A. Hall

I was reading Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader, namely the Fully Loaded 25th Anniversary Edition, which I was given as a present at Christmas.  I came across a list of genericized trademarks, at least according to the book, which also included the name by which the items should be called.  Below is the list:

Bubble Wrap – inflated cushioning

Dumpster – front-loader waste container

Chapstick – lip balm

Lava Lamp – liquid motion lamp

Frisbee – flying disc

Hacky Sack – footbag

Jet Ski – personal watercraft

Jacuzzi – whirlpool bath

AstroTurf – artificial turf

JumboTron – large-screen television

Onesie – infant bodysuit

Superglue – cyanoacrylate adhesive

Rollerblades – inline skates

Tivo – digital video recorder

Speedos – swim briefs

Styrofoam – extruded polystyrene foam


I am not certain that each of the trademark owners would agree that its respective mark is indeed generic (e.g. TIVO).  In fact, no mark is technically generic until the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) or a court of law, typically a United States Federal Court, has made a finding of genericness (which has undoubtedly happened to some of the above marks).  Nonetheless, to me, a mark is subject to genercize after a brand owner has done such an amazing job marketing that consumers recognize it not only as the source of the particular product or service but the product or service itself, regardless of source.  Unfortunately, brand recognition can turn into brand destruction.

Given the use of certain items by brand name only, is this list set to grow (e.g. “Google it”, “Do you want to Skype me”, etc.)?  Is the list accurate, incomplete, etc.?  Let me know your thoughts.


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