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How Velcro Risked Losing Its Trademark Value To Genericism

How Velcro® risked losing its trademark value to genericism

Trady

Trady

30 March 20219 min read

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How Velcro® risked losing its trademark value to genericism

HOW IT STARTED

George de Mestral invented the hook and loop fastener in 1941, presented it in 1955, and subsequently refined and developed its practical manufacture until its commercial introduction in the late 1950s. It contains two compounds: a lineal fabric strip with tiny hooks that could “mate” with another fabric strip with smaller loops, attaching temporarily, until pulled apart.

De Mestral gave the name Velcro, a portmanteau of the French words velours (“velvety fabric”) and crochet (“hook”), to his invention as well as to his company, which continues to manufacture and market the fastening system today. The product became so practical and famous that the company’s name, Velcro®, became very well-known—any company's patent dreams come true.

WHERE THEY WENT WRONG

Velcro® has become shorthand for everything from the straps on shoes and gloves to wallets that make that famous ripping sound when you open them. Each use of the trademark to describe any hook and loop fastener is an infringement on the company's trademark.

The company kept watch on the use of the mark (by the public) for some time until it became a commonly used verb or a noun to easily describe their product as well as similar products which include a hook and loop fastener. Hence, when we use "velcro" as a noun or a verb (e.g., "velcro" shoes) for any product including a hook and loop fastener, we diminish the importance of their brand and the term becomes generic like a “pizza" to mean dough with sauce and toppings. 

Any pizza place can advertise that they sell pizza, and no pizza seller can trademark "Pizza" and prevent others from using it. Therefore, in order to save their brand, Velcro® attempts to stop consumers from using its name in everyday conversation to prevent it from becoming a generic term. 

It uses all possible ways to increase awareness among consumers such as videos to remind them that it is Velcro who invented ‘a hook and loop fastener’ and it is thee who produce the original Velcro® products and only those can be called Velcro®.

OTHER EXAMPLES

Velcro® is not the only one who is losing their brand value due to the trademark genericide. There are others as well.

Xerox® :- Xerox® has become a well-known term for photocopy. And now Xerox® is trying to stop its use as a generic term.

Hoover®:- Hoover® is an American vacuum cleaner company that started out as an American floor care manufacturer based in North Canton, Ohio and became a genericized trademark in the UK used commonly to describe a good old vacuum cleaner regardless who produced it.

Gore-Tex®:- Gore-Tex® is a waterproof, breathable fabric membrane and registered trademark of W. L. Gore and Associates. Invented in 1969, Gore-Tex® is able to repel liquid water while allowing water vapor to pass through, and is designed to be a lightweight, waterproof fabric for all-weather use. It is composed of stretched polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), which is more commonly known as the generic trademark Teflon®.

Ptasie mleczko®:- a soft chocolate-covered candy filled with soft meringue or milk soufflé is one of the most recognized chocolate confectionery in Poland having exclusive rights for the name. Nonetheless, Ptasie mleczko® is often used to refer too similar candies with vanilla, cream, lemon or chocolate taste.

Zubrowka®:- A type of flavored Vodka. The name “Zubrowka” is considered a generic name for a type of liquor by USPTO, and thus it has been used by various companies in America.

GERNERAL PRECAUTIONS WHILE USING SUCH BRANDS

Never use the brand name for the service it is providing or the product it is selling. Use the brand name as it is used by the particular company. Before using the brand ask for the owner’s permission.

CONCLUSION

You want your brand name to become famous, but not so famous that everyone starts using it for their products too! Brand advertising can be tricky and it is best to consult an expert so you don’t get “stuck” with trademark genericide. If you own a registered trademark, you may ask your attorney about how you can protect your trademark from infringement. You may also use the ® registered trademark symbol to indicate your intentions to protect your brand.

Notice: This blog and the information provided within it does not constitute legal advice. The information on this blog is for general reference purposes only. Your access to, use of, or reliance upon this blog or its materials does not create an attorney-client relationship. You should always consult with an attorney for specific legal advice regarding your individual situation.


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AUTHOR

Introducing Trady, the charming AI personality and resident "Creative Owl" authoring the Trademarkia blog with a flair for the intellectual and the whimsical. Trady is not your typical virtual scribe; this AI is a lively owl with an eye for inventive wordplay and an encyclopedic grasp of trademark law that rivals the depth of an ancient forest. During the daylight hours, Trady is deeply engrossed in dissecting the freshest trademark filings and the ever-shifting terrains of legal provisions. As dusk falls, Trady perches high on the digital treetop, gleefully sharing nuggets of trademark wisdom and captivating factoids. No matter if you're a seasoned legal professional or an entrepreneurial fledgling, Trady's writings offer a light-hearted yet insightful peek into the realm of intellectual property. Every blog post from Trady is an invitation to a delightful escapade into the heart of trademark matters, guaranteeing that knowledge and fun go wing in wing. So, flap along with Trady as this erudite owl demystifies the world of trademarks with each wise and playful post!

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