‘Xerox’ Not Common Parlance Yet- IPAB

Language is a powerful force. It has defined cultures, accorded identity to civilizations, encouraged study and has both united and divided the world’s populace. However it has also had influences beyond the apparent; language, interestingly, shares a close relationship with brands with the former commanding a ubiquitous influence over the latter. Its cause and effect relationship with brands has, on one hand, set many a brand to total market domination while on the other, caused as many of them to lose identity and perish. One such influencing factor is ‘genericising’ of a brand.

A Brand, being a word, may become a part of colloquial language. Owing to its long standing association with the goods or services it represents, a brand often becomes synonymous with such goods or services. The word gradually enters normal parlance and over time comes to be accepted as a part of the language itself.

*Following is a list of formerly registered Trademarks that have lost their legal protection because of becoming synonymous with the products/services they once represented –

Aspirin

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.

Catseye

Originally a trademark for a specific type of retro reflective road safety installation.

Cellophane

Still a registered trademark of Innovia Films Ltd in Europe and many other jurisdictions. Originally a trademark of DuPont.

Dry ice

Trademarked by the Dry Ice Corporation of America in 1925.

Escalator

Originally a trademark of Otis Elevator Company.

Heroin

Trademarked by Friedrich Bayer & Co in 1898.

Kerosene

First used around 1852.

Lanolin

Trademarked as the term for a preparation of water and the wax from sheep’s wool.

Laundromat

Coin laundry shop. Westinghouse trademark, registered in the US in the 1940’s (automatic washing machine) and 1950’s (coin laundry) but now expired.

Linoleum

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.

Mimeograph

Originally trademarked by Albert Dick.

Petrol

Carless, Capel and Leonard invented the trade name “Petrol” for refined petroleum spirit.

Phonograph

The name of a sound recording and playing device manufactured by Thomas Edison.

Primal Therapy

A psychotherapy. Registered by Arthur Janov in 1970. Cancelled in 1978.

Spidola

A brand created by the Latvian manufacturer VEF, but widely used in Russian to refer to all transistor radios.

Thermos

Originally a Thermos GmbHtrademark name for a vacuum flask; declared generic in the U.S. in 1963.

Touch-tone

Dual tone multi-frequency telephone signaling; AT&T states “formerly a trademark of AT&T”.

Videotape

Originally trademarked by Ampex Corporation,an early manufacturer of audio and video tape recorders.

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”.

Yo-Yo

Still a Papa’s Toy Co. Ltd. trademark name for a spinning toy in Canada, but declared generic in the U.S. in 1965.

ZIP code

Originally registered as a service mark but has since expired.

Zipper

Originally a trademark of B.F. Goodrich.

*Now, the following list contains some Trademarks that are still legally registered yet, are used frequently as generic words-

Bisleri

Trade Mark owned by Parle

Coke

Trade Mark owned by Coca-Cola Company

Cadbury

Trade Mark owned by The Kraft Group

Dolby Surround

Trade Mark owned by Dolby Laboratories

Frisbee

Trade Mark owned by Wham-O

Google

Trade Mark owned by Google Inc.

iPod

Trade Mark owned by Apple Inc.

Photoshop

Trade Mark owned by Adobe Systems

Post it

Trade Mark owned by 3M Company

Walkman

Trade Mark owned by Sony Corporation

Recently, in the matter of Mr. B. V. Ilango V/s Rank Xerox Ltd. & Ors., (hereafter being referred to as Applicant and Respondent, respectively) the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) held that ‘Xerox’ Trademark was not a generic mark and therefore refused to disqualify it from trademark protection. The IPAB dismissed the Applicant’s rectification application to remove the ‘Xerox’ trademark, in its decision dated September 21, 2012.

Both parties filed a considerable amount of evidence in the form of judgments, circulars, newspaper ads etc. in support of their respective contentions but a perusal of the IPAB’s decision will show that, even though it acknowledges the volume of evidence from both sides, it felt that the public knew that the owner of the Trademark was the Respondent and that the Respondent had acted just in time to save the life of the Trademark in light of the loose manner in which people were using the Trade mark.

Since the subject of this article is ‘genericising’ of Trademarks in general we are not exploring the nitty-gritties of the decision of the IPAB. The same is for your record and basic understanding of the concept.

*(Source: Wikipedia)

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