List of generic and genericized trademarks
The following three lists of generic and genericized trademarks are:
- marks which were originally legally protected trademarks, but have been genericized and have lost their legal status due to becoming generic terms,
- marks which have been abandoned and are now generic terms
- marks which are still legally protected as trademarks, at least in some jurisdictions
List of former trademarks that have been genericized
The following partial 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. These marks were determined in court to have become generic. Some marks retain trademark protection in certain countries despite being declared generic in others.
- Still a Bayer trademark name for acetylsalicylic acid in about 80 countries, including Canada and many countries in Europe, but declared generic in the U.S.
- Originally a trademark for a specific type of retroreflective road safety installation.
- Still a registered trademark of Innovia Films Ltd in Europe and many other jurisdictions. Genericized in the U.S. Originally a trademark of DuPont. A thin, transparent sheet made of regenerated cellulose.
- Dry ice
- Trademarked by the Dry Ice Corporation of America in 1925. A solid form of carbon dioxide.
- Originally a trademark of Otis Elevator Company.
- Flip phone
- Originally a trademark of Motorola.
- Flit gun
- Originally trademarked as a dispenser for Flit, a brand of insecticide manufactured by the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey (later Exxon).
- Trademarked by Friedrich Bayer & Co in 1898. Trademark lost in some nations in the Treaty of Versailles, in 1919.
- First used around 1852.
- Trademarked as the term for a preparation of water and the wax from sheep's wool.
- Coin laundry shop. Westinghouse trademark, registered in the U.S. in the 1940s (automatic washing machine) and 1950s (coin laundry) but now expired.
- Floor covering, originally coined by Frederick Walton in 1864, and ruled as generic following a lawsuit for trademark infringement in 1878; probably the first product name to become a generic term.
- Originally trademarked by Albert Dick. A low-cost printing press that works by forcing ink through a stencil onto paper.
- Sellotape is a British brand of transparent, cellulose-based, pressure-sensitive adhesive tape, and is the leading brand in the United Kingdom. Sellotape is generally used for joining, sealing, attaching and mending. The term has become a genericised trademark in the UK, Ireland, Australia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Israel, India, Serbia, Japan, Croatia, Greece, Turkey, Macedonia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa, and is used much in the same way that Scotch Tape came to be used in Canada and the United States, in referring to any brand of clear adhesive tape.
- A brand created by the Latvian manufacturer VEF, but widely used in Russian to refer to all transistor radios.
- Originally a Thermos GmbH trademark name for a vacuum flask; declared generic in the U.S. in 1963.
- Originally a trademark of the Griswold-Nissen Trampoline & Tumbling Company
- Originally trademarked by Ampex Corporation, an early manufacturer of audio and video tape recorders.
List of former trademarks that have since become generic terms due to reasons other than genericization
The following partial list contains marks which were originally legally protected trademarks, but which have subsequently lost legal protection as trademarks due to abandonment, non-renewal or improper issuance (the generic term pre-dated the registration). Some marks retain trademark protection in certain countries despite being generic in others.
- Trademark claimed by Apple, Inc.; cancelled.
- App Store
- Trademark claimed by Apple Inc. for their digital distribution platform. Apple filed a lawsuit against Amazon.com over Appstore for Amazon, but abandoned the trademark and the lawsuit after an early rejection of Apple's false advertising claim in the lawsuit. However, it was reclaimed, and it remains a service mark of Apple Inc.
- Used to refer to a state on a pinball machine where two or more balls are present on the playfield simultaneously and can be accessed by the flippers. Trademarked by WMS Industries in 1981 as "Multi-ball" and by Templar Studios in 2000 as "Multiball." "Multiball" was abandoned as a trademark in 2001, and "Multi-ball" was canceled in 2002.
- Dual tone multi-frequency telephone signaling; AT&T states "formerly a trademark of AT&T".
- Webster's Dictionary
- The publishers with the strongest link to the original are Merriam-Webster, but they have a trademark only on "Merriam-Webster", and other dictionaries are legally published as "Webster's Dictionary".
- Still a Papa's Toy Co. Ltd. trademark name for a spinning toy in Canada, but was determined that the trademark was improperly issued.
- ZIP code
- Originally registered as a service mark but has since expired.
- Originally a trademark of B.F. Goodrich for use in rubber boots.
List of protected trademarks frequently used as generic terms
Marks in this partial list are still legally protected as trademarks, at least in some jurisdictions, 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 synecdoche.
The previous list contains trademarks that have completely 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".
Please note that other generic terms may be equally appropriate.
|Trademarked name||Generic name||Trademark owner||Notes|
|Adrenalin||Epinephrine||Parke-Davis||Widely referred to as "adrenaline" outside of the U.S., and in the BAN and EP systems.|
|Airfix||Plastic injection-moulded scale model kits||Hornby Railways||Still used widely in the UK to describe a scale model as it was the dominant brand at that time. This news article is one example of the brand being treated as a generic term.|
|Airshow||In-flight entertainment moving map||Rockwell Collins||Not commonly used worldwide.|
|Aqua-lung||Open-circuit underwater breathing set with demand valve||See Aqua-lung#Trademark issues||Or nowadays often merely "scuba", or "air scuba", when there is a need to distinguish from rebreathers|
|AstroTurf||Artificial turf||Monsanto Company (formerly)
|Also gave use to the term astroturfing.|
|Armco||Crash barrier||AK Steel Holding||Used widely in the UK to describe a crash barrier manufactured from corrugated steel.|
|Band-Aid||Adhesive bandage||Johnson & Johnson||Often used as though generic by consumers in Canada, the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand, though still legally trademarked.|
|Biro||Ballpoint pen||Société Bic||Used generically in colloquial British and Australian English, particularly for cheaper disposable pens, but remains a registered trademark. Derived from the name of the inventor, László Bíró.|
|Bobcat||Skid-steer loader||Bobcat Company||This usage is especially common in Australia. The Clark Equipment Company has successfully defended the trademark against dilution and genericization at least in two cases relating to domain names with the World Intellectual Property Organization.|
|Bubble Wrap||Inflated cushioning||Sealed Air|||
|Bubbler||Drinking fountain||Kohler Company||Sometimes used as a generic, particularly in Wisconsin, New England and Australia.|
|Cashpoint||Automated teller machine, cash machine||Lloyds Bank||Commonly used in the UK to refer to any ATM or cash dispensing machine, regardless of which bank or company it is operated by.|
|Chain gun||Motor operated machine gun||Alliant Techsystems|| Also appears as a definition in the Oxford English Dictionary, describing it as "a machine gun that uses a motor-driven chain to power all moving parts"|
|Christmas Seals||Christmas Seals||American Lung Association|| A Charity label or fundraising seal issued at Christmas time to fight tuberculosis or other lung disease. Trademark was taken in 1987 by ALA, who has issued National Christmas Seals in the US continuously since 1907, to prevent other US National charities from competing.|
|Cigarette boat||Go-fast boat||Cigarette Racing||The nickname derived from fast powerboats that were designed to smuggle cigarettes fast and outrun law enforcement personnel. Trademark was taken following a founding of a company named after the nickname.|
|Coke||Cola, soft drink, pop, soda||Coca-Cola Company||Predominantly used in the Southern United States to refer to any soft drink, not just a cola, or in some parts of the UK to refer to any cola (even that of another trademark). Still a trademark.|
|Colt||Revolver||Colt's Manufacturing Company||A common choice of gun during the Wild West, it was used to describe any revolvers during the 19th century, regardless of brand.|
|Connollising||As a verb, to restore automobile leather interior||Connolly Leather||Often used by automobile enthusiasts and medias, when to describe restoring leather interiors, thanks to the high international reputation of the company.|
|Crock-Pot||Slow cooker||Sunbeam Products||"Crock pot" and "crockpot" are common synonyms used by cooks to describe any slow cooker.|
|Cuisinart||Food processor||Conair||Sometimes used in the U.S. to refer to any food processor, but still a trademark.|
|Cutex||Nail polish||Cutex Brands, Inc.||Mostly used in the Philippines to refer to nail polish, regardless of brand. Often spelled as "Kyutix", "Kutex", or "Kutix."|
|Decora||Rocker light switch||Leviton||Frequently used in the United States to refer to any rocker light switch regardless of manufacturer, but still trademarked.|
|Dictaphone||Dictation machine||Nuance Communications||To date, one of the five oldest surviving U.S. brands.|
|Doll Instant Noodle||Instant noodles||Winner Food Products||"Doll Instant Noodle" (公仔麵) is commonly referred in Hong Kong for instant noodles. Winner Food Products (永南食品) has been acquired by its former arch-competitor Nissin Foods in 1989.|
then Dormobile (Folkestone) Ltd
|Widely used in the United Kingdom to describe any motorhomes. This article by the BBC is an example of the term being used generically.|
|Dumpster||Front loader waste container||Dempster Brothers, Inc.||A registered trademark of the Dempster Brothers in 1963, dumpster is originally a portmanteau of the word dump and the last name Dempster. It originally appeared in the 1951 product name Dempster Dumpster, while related patents date back to 1937.|
|Durex||Adhesive tape (Australia, Brazil)||3M||Used in Brazil ("fita durex") and some areas of Australia as a generic name for adhesive tape.|
|Filofax||Personal organizer||FLB Group Ltd, formerly Letts Filofax Group|||
|Fix-A-Flat||Canned tire inflator||Illinois Tool Works|||
|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.|
|Freon||Refrigerant||DuPont||Frequently used to refer to any type of refrigerant, though Freon is specifically Dichlorodifluoromethane, or R-12.|
|Gib board||Drywall||Winstone Wallboards||Widely used term within New Zealand to refer to plasterboard, after the name of the country's market-leading product of its type (still trademarked).|
|Glad Wrap||Cling-film||Glad (company)|| Used in Australia, New Zealand.|
|internet search engine||Google Inc.|| See Google (verb)|
|Hills Hoist||Rotary clothes line||Hills Industries||Australian usage|
|Hoover||Vacuum cleaner||Hoover Company||Widely used as a noun and verb. De facto loss of trademark in the UK.|
|Hula hoop||Toy hoop||Wham-O|||
|Jacuzzi||Hot tub or whirlpool bath||Jacuzzi|||
|Javex||Bleach||Clorox Company||Used primarily in Canada, where bleach is "eau de javel" as a French-language generic. Acquired from Colgate-Palmolive in late 2006.|
|JCB||Backhoe loader||J. C. Bamford||Has become a generic term for an excavator mounted with both a front loader and a backhoe in British English, as recognized by the Oxford English Dictionary. Invented by J C Bamford Excavators Ltd., which is still the largest supplier of backhoe loaders.|
|Jeep||Compact sport utility vehicle||Chrysler||Chrysler recently used "trademark awareness" advertisements to prevent the brand from becoming a generic noun or verb, including such statements as They invented ‘SUV’ because they can’t call them Jeep|
|Jet Ski||Stand-up personal watercraft||Kawasaki||Used universally to refer to any type of personal watercraft. This news article is one example of usage.|
|Jiffy bag||padded mailing envelopes||Sealed Air|||
|JumboTron||Large-screen television||Sony||Still used, although Sony exited the market for this product in 2001.|
|Kleenex||Facial tissue||Kimberly-Clark||Often used by consumers as if it were generic in the U.S., France and Canada, but still a legally recognized trademark.|
|Lava lamp||Liquid motion lamp||Mathmos|||
|Learjet||business jet||Bombardier Aerospace||Have been used to describe any business jets regardless of competitors due to Bill Lear's skill in public relations.|
|Lexan||Polycarbonate resin thermoplastic glass||SABIC|||
|Mace||Pepper spray||Mace Security International|||
|Matchbox||Die cast toy||Mattel||Used at its height of popularity to describe die cast cars.|
|Memory Stick||Flash memory storage device||Sony|||
|Muzak||Elevator music, background music||Muzak Holdings||An often derogatory term frequently used to describe any form of Easy Listening, smooth jazz, or Middle of the road music, or to the type of recordings once commonly heard on "beautiful music" radio stations.|
|NOS (Nitrous Oxide Systems)||Nitrous||Holley Performance Products||Widely used generically to describe nitrous systems used in motor vehicles. One example of this was when it was used prominently in the 2001 film The Fast and the Furious|
|Onesies||Infant/Adult bodysuit (babygro)||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. Recently used to describe an adult bodysuit.|
|Photoshop||Photo manipulation||Adobe Systems||Commonly used as a verb to generically describe digital manipulation or compositing of photographs.|
|Ping Pong||Table tennis||Parker Brothers||Originally trademarked by Jaques and Son, was later passed to Parker Bros. A number of U.S. organizations nowadays are required to refer its sport as table tennis as means of trademark protection.|
|Plasticine||Modelling clay||Flair Leisure Products plc||Often applied as a name for a putty-like modelling material made from calcium salts, petroleum jelly and aliphatic acids. It is often used as modelling medium for art such as claymation.|
|Play-Doh||Modelling material||Kutol Products Company - Hasbro||Play-Doh is a modeling compound used by young children for art and craft projects at home and in school. Composed of flour, water, salt, boric acid, and mineral oil, the product was first manufactured in Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S., as a wallpaper cleaner in the 1930s.|
|Plexiglas, Plexiglass||Acrylic glass||Altuglas International,
Rohm & Haas (formerly)
|Often misspelled with a double "s", which appears to have become generic, possibly providing partial protection for the tradename "Plexiglas"|
|Pogo||Corn dog||ConAgra Foods||The generic, but still trademarked, term for corn dogs in Canada, derived from the popular brand.|
|Popsicle||Ice Pop; ice lolly (UK); ice block (Australia)||Good Humor-Breyers|||
|Portakabin||Portable building||Portakabin Ltd.||Widely used term for a portable modular building in the UK.|
|Post-it||Sticky note||3M||Often used by consumers as if it were generic in the UK, U.S. and Canada, but still a legally recognized trademark.|
|Pot Noodle||Instant noodles||Unilever||Used widely in the United Kingdom as it is the dominant brand.|
|Powerpoint||Slide show presentation program||Microsoft|||
|Pritt Stick||Glue stick||Henkel||A newspaper article by the Daily Mirror (on 27 March 2010) treated the brand as a generic name, another example of use is by The Guardian on its 16 June 2007 article.|
|Putt-Putt golf||Miniature golf||Putt-Putt Fun Center|||
|Q-tips||Cotton swabs; cotton buds (UK); cotton tip (Australia)||Unilever||Often used by consumers as if it were generic in the U.S. and Canada, but still a legally recognized trademark.|
|Realtor||Real estate agent||National Association of Realtors||Often used by the public, the media, and even real estate agents to refer generally to any real estate agent, but the term is a legally recognized trademark of the National Association of Realtors. The terms "Realtor" and "Realtors" refer to members of this association, and not to real estate agents generally. The National Association of Realtors is engaged in ongoing efforts to prevent the mark from becoming generic. These efforts include, among other things, writing to members of the media to complain of improper usage, distribution of information and guidelines on correct usage, and the development of an educational video on the subject.|
|Rizla||Rolling paper||Imperial Tobacco||Often used to describe rolling papers which are used to contain rolled tobacco or marijuana.|
|Rollerblade||Inline skates||Nordica||Commonly used name by consumers in the U.S. and Canada, but the name is still a trademark.|
|Romex||Non-metallic sheathed cable, Thermoplastic-sheathed cable||Southwire (company). www.southwire.com/romex.htm||Commonly used name by consumers in the U.S., but the name is still a trademark.|
|Rugby||Rubber cement||Bostik Philippines, Inc.||Being the first rubber cement brand in the Philippines, eventually used to refer to any brand of rubber contact cement. See also Rugby boy, a collective term for destitute youths known for their use of rubber cement as an inhalant.|
|Scalextric||Slot car||Hornby Railways||Used commonly in the United Kingdom to describe slot cars and the hobbies itself.|
|Scotch tape||Clear adhesive tape (US)||3M||Appears in dictionaries as both generic and trademarked. "Trademark Law" advises that proper usage is "Scotch brand cellophane tape" to combat "generic tendencies".|
|Ski-Doo||Snowmobile||Bombardier Recreational Products||Usage in Canada, especially Quebec and British Columbia.|
|Sea-Doo||Sit-down personal watercraft||Bombardier Recreational Products||Used regionally in the U.S. (where the company holds 50.3% of the market share) to refer to any type of sit-down PWC. Usage is strongest in Canada, especially in Quebec, where the manufacturer is based.|
|Sellotape||Clear adhesive tape (UK)||Sellotape Company, owned by Henkel Consumer Adhesives||Often used generically as a verb and noun. Appears in dictionaries as both generic and trademarked.|
|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".|
|Stetson||Cowboy hat||John B. Stetson Company||Although John B. Stetson Company manufacturers other types of brimmed hats, the word Stetson has been long used for a generic cowboy hat which features a high crown and wide brim.|
|Stanley knife||Utility knife||Stanley Works||In Great Britain, the press and law enforcement officers have had referred to it as Stanley knife during incidents as the following two links indicates, regardless if said weapon is actually a utility knife. The trademark have since entered into a dictionary term.|
|Stelvin closure||Screw cap||Rio Tinto Alcan||Often used generically.|
|Styrofoam||extruded polystyrene foam||Dow Chemical Company||In the United States and Canada, "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, which is made for thermal insulation and craft applications.|
|Super Glue||Cyanoacrylate adhesive||Super Glue Corporation||The term "superglue" is often used informally as a verb or noun, but is still a trademark (US)|
|Super Heroes||Superhero||DC Comics, Marvel Comics||The two-word version of the term is a joint ownership co-owned by DC Comics and Marvel Comics.|
|Tannoy||Public address system||Tannoy Ltd.||UK usage|
|Targa top||Semi-convertible hard roof panel||Porsche||Although first used in the 1960s, trademark was not claimed until the 1970s, when its popularity grew; hence, the name is treated as a generic trademark by the general public and the motoring press to describe a detachable hard roof panel.|
|Tarmac||Asphalt road surface.||Tarmac||Often used by consumers as if it were generic in the UK and Canada, but still a legally recognized trademark.|
|Taser||Electroshock weapon, stun gun||Taser Systems
|Acronym for a fictional weapon: Thomas A. Swift's Electric Rifle. 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.|
|Tipp-Ex||Correction Fluid||Tipp-Ex GmbH & Co. KG||Common throughout the UK|
|Tivoli||Amusement park||Tivoli A/S||The Danish Tivoli Gardens amusement park has registered its colloquial name "Tivoli" as company name and trademark. In Danish language, the word "tivoli" has however been a generic term for "amusement park" from before the Tivoli Gardens opened in 1843 and is still used as such, for instance in the name of many other amusement parks all over Denmark and other Scandinavian countries. This is currently the focal point of several legal disagreements, with the first (Tivoli A/S vs Innocent Pictures ApS) leading to a win for Tivoli A/S in Denmark's Supreme Court in September 2010.|
|Tupperware||Plastic storage containers||Earl Tupper||Preparation, storage, containment, and serving products for the kitchen and home, which were first introduced to the public in 1946.|
|Vaseline||Petroleum jelly, petrolatum||Unilever||Often used by consumers as if it were generic in the U.S. and Canada, but still a legally recognized trademark.|
|Velcro||Hook-and-loop fastener||Velcro company||Used as generic, but still trademarked. Often used as a verb.|
|Vetsin||Monosodium glutamate||Tien Chun Ve-Tsin||Philippine term for monosodium glutamate. It was popular back then, and despite Ajinomoto leading the monosodium glutamate market nowadays, people still refer to it as Vetsin/Bitsin.|
|Walkman||Personal stereo||Sony Corporation||Was often used generically for any portable stereo player, and in 2002 an Austrian court ruled that it had passed into common usage, but still a legally recognized trademark.|
|WaveRunner||Personal water craft||Yamaha Motor Company||Often used, along with Jet Ski, to refer to any type of personal watercraft.|
|Winnebago||Class A recreational vehicle (UK) recreational vehicle (US)||Winnebago Industries||Used in the United Kingdom to describe a coach sized American motorhome. The term is also used generically in the United States describe pretty much any motorhome, but not to the same extent.|
|Wite-Out||Correction fluid||Société Bic||A white liquid applied with a brush used to hide mistakes, written or typed, with ink so they can be overwritten. (US, see also Tipp-Ex in the UK)|
|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." However, it is used in India and Russia as a generic word for 'photocopy'. In Brazilian Portuguese, xerocar, or less frequently xerocopiar, is a common verb for "to make a photocopy".|
|Zamboni||Ice resurfacer||Zamboni Company||Also called a Zamboni machine. Frank J. Zamboni & Co., Inc. has taken a strong stance against its trademark dilution, the Zamboni name being used as a genericized trademark for ice resurfacers. On August 15, 2000, Frank J. Zamboni & Co, Inc. was awarded a registered trademark on the design and configuration of the Zamboni Ice Resurfacer by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The company asks that Zamboni not be used as a noun or a verb. Ice does not get Zambonied—and the vehicle is a Zamboni brand ice-resurfacing machine.|
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