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#6861 - 09/24/00 11:30 PM Brand names that have entered the dictionary.
Wordsmith Offline


member

Registered: 03/12/00
Posts: 123
"I'll FedEx you these documents today!" You have most likely heard people
say this when what they really mean is they will send the material by a
courier service, not necessarily the FedEx company. How many times have you
xeroxed documents without even checking whether the copier was made by the
Xerox company as it churned out the copies? Today I'm discussing a phenomenon
called genericide whereby a trademark becomes so popular that it is used as
a generic for the entire product category, not just as a specific brand name.

The success of a brand name is often a double-edged sword for the owning
company. Initially, a company's dream is to become so successful with its
product that customers use their brandname as a generic, "Need to ship your
documents overnight? Just FedEx them!" As the brand becomes more popular,
they struggle to protect it lest it gets watered down and becomes a generic--
a victim of its own success. Did you know the words adrenaline, aspirin,
celluloid, escalator, gramophone, granola, heroin, kerosene were all
trademarks once owned by companies? This week, AWAD will feature examples
of words that, once trademarks, now are dictionary entries: bona fide words
of the English language. -Stuti Garg (stuti@namix.com)


(This week's Guest Wordsmith, Stuti, is the founder of Namix
http://namix.com, a company offering business naming services.)



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#6862 - 09/25/00 10:45 AM Re: Brand names that have entered the dictionary.
maverick Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/15/00
Posts: 4757
What determines when a word is in currency as a trademark and when it has seeped out into wider usage? For example, a standard spellchecker will probably pull us up still if we typed "I hoovered the carpet", seeking to make it a capitalised noun. Yet I doubt if anyone thinks of it as only a brand name by now. Perhaps there is a period of parallel meanings, where the product has become so emblematic of the action that it is adopted to also denote the action, and (if at that point it is not somehow protected) it gains general currency...?

PS: The SC on this site wants me to make it Hooverise - I draw the line at that! It leaves me feeling quite disorientated.


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#6863 - 09/25/00 01:48 PM Re: Brand names that have entered the dictionary.
tsuwm Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 10523
Loc: this too shall pass
>It leaves me feeling quite disorientated.

don't DO that -- you could easily start (yet) another trend!


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#6864 - 09/25/00 06:18 PM Re: Brand names that have entered the dictionary.
apples + oranges Offline
newbie

Registered: 08/30/00
Posts: 46
Loc: Canada
>>For example, a standard spellchecker will probably pull us up still if we typed "I hoovered the carpet", seeking to make it a capitalised noun. Yet I doubt if anyone thinks of it as only a brand name by now.<<

I do. Apart from when I read messages like yours and when I watch british television, I always think of hoover as only a brand name. I have never used hoover as a verb before, and neither has anyone I know.

"A sobering thought: what if, at this very moment, I am living up to my full potential?" JANE WAGNER

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#6865 - 09/25/00 09:45 PM Re: Brand names that have entered the dictionary.
Jackie Offline

Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 11609
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky
leaves me feeling quite disorientated.

mav,

C'mere a minute. Now, I want you to look v-e-r-y
closely at my fist...and soon you'll be disoriented!


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#6866 - 09/26/00 08:09 AM Re: Brand names that have entered the dictionary.
maverick Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/15/00
Posts: 4757
look v-e-r-y
closely at my fist...


Atagirl! I knew you'd find it


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#6867 - 09/26/00 08:25 AM Re: Brand names that have entered the dictionary.
maverick Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/15/00
Posts: 4757
I always think of hoover as only a brand name

Yes, you're right to pull me up, a&o - it's easy to assume a local usage retains currency elsewhere, which is one of the things about this forum I find really fascinating. Can you substitute some similar usage from your colloquial speech, or is this pattern another facet of 'two great countries divided & co'?


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#6868 - 09/27/00 12:03 PM Re: Brand names that have entered the dictionary.
Jackie Offline

Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 11609
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky
mav,

I'm still so mad about John Denver being maligned that I'm
going to have to hold off giving you what you deserve, lest
you receive more than you deserve.

I think "hoovering" usage may be more generational than
acc'g to country. I've heard it amongst my generation.
There are a couple of babies on Board here. (Ouch, I've
GOTTA learn to duck faster!)


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#6869 - 09/27/00 05:31 PM Re: Brand names that have entered the dictionary.
Jazzoctopus Offline
old hand

Registered: 07/03/00
Posts: 1094
Loc: Cincinnati & Loveland, Ohio, U...
There are a couple of babies on Board here

Was that supposed to be a reference to me? I seem to be the youngest person on the board.

This wouldn't be the first instance of age descrimination.

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#6870 - 09/27/00 11:42 PM Re: Brand names that have entered the dictionary.
johnjohn Offline
member

Registered: 07/05/00
Posts: 167
Loc: Australia
<What determines when a word is in currency as a trademark and when it has seeped out into wider usage? >

Let me just say that this is a fascinating area for trade mark lawyers.

In Australia, a registered TM is liable to be struck off the Register if someone can show the court that it has become "generally accepted within the relevant trade as the mark that describes or is the name of the article, substance or service" for which it is registered and used. That is a much more onerous task than showing that mere consumers apply or regard it generically.

All the major corporates keep a very watchful eye on uses of their TMs which may dilute their value as TMs, eg. describing someone as delivering "Rolls Royce service" is a no-no so far as the RR Motor Co. is concerned.


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