Some brands are so great, they have become a part of everyday speech. Can you even think of another name for a Band-Aid?
These terms, like Saran Wrap and Chap Stick, are brands that have turned into proprietary eponyms. In other words, they are general words that are, or were at one time, company trademarks.
There are literally hundreds of brands that have made the leap from product to everyday jargon. They have completely dominated their markets.
This sounds like a great thing for companies– but it isn’t always. Once a brand name becomes mainstream, it’s nearly impossible to control and protect the trademark. And if companies aren’t careful to renew their trademarks every few years, they may lose the rights to their brand name forever.
Once a word becomes legally available to the public, it becomes much harder to regain the legal rights. Brands like Yo-Yo and Escalator were once protected, but now their marks are defunct.
Take Spam for example. The brand is trademarked by Hormel Foods Corp, but instead of being thought of as canned/smoked ham, the word went viral and is now thought of first and foremost as unwanted email and annoying online interactions.
Still, for most brands that make this leap, it does more good than harm. Brands that dominate categories, like Apple’s iPod and the MP3 market, are front of mind when consumers make purchasing decisions, which leads to increased sales.
You probably don’t realise how these brands have taken over your vocabulary.
Company: Beer Nuts, Inc. (Beer Nuts was trademarked in the 1950's from a 1930's product)
Category it dominates: Peanuts (primarily ones with a husk but no shell)
Definition: n; A trademarked peanut snack served with its husk but no shell, in a sweet-and-salty glaze; also used generically for a peanut served with its husk but not the shell.
Company: Dempster Brothers, Inc. (term was first used commercially in 1936 and product was patented in 1940)
Category it represents: Waste vehicles and receptacles
Definition: n; Trademark used for containers designed for receiving, transporting, and dumping waste materials.
Company: Wham-O Manufacturing Corporation
Category it represents: Flying saucer and sport
Definition: Frisbee n.; frisbees n. pl. : toy flying saucer for toss games
Company: Avery Dennison Corporation
Category it represents: Marker
Definition: n. 1. An area or a spot in a drawing, painting, or photograph that is strongly illuminated. 2. An especially significant or interesting detail or event. tr.v. high·light·ed, high·light·ing, high·lights 1. To give a highlight to (the subject of a painting, for example). 2. a. To make prominent; emphasise. b. To be a highlight of. 3. To mark (important passages of text) with a usually fluorescent marker as a means of memory retention or for later reference.
Company: Westinghouse Electric Corporation
Category it represents: Coin-operated laundry businesses
Definition: n; A self-service laundry (service mark Laundromat) where coin-operated washing machines are available to individual customers
Company: Parker Brothers
Category it represents: Table tennis
Definition: n; A game (trademark Ping-Pong) resembling tennis but played on a table with paddles and a light hollow ball
Category it represents: Correction marker
Definition: n; a quick-drying fluid, typically white, applied with a small brush to a piece of paper so as to cover typed or written errors and make a blank surface for corrections
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