For those attending the HOW Design Live Conference in San Fransisco, you may have noticed the inside cover of HOW’s Special Issue on Interactive Design and Typography, most likely penned by a nervous trademark type:
Nervous, I say, because these types of advertisements frequently are designed to help prevent unwanted genericide of a trademark. The idea generally is, let’s show and create a record that we are educating the public about our trademark rights and hopefully deterring misuses that otherwise might find their way into the public eye and influence the relevant public’s understanding of a term or symbol as being generic and part of the public domain, free for anyone to use, even competitors.
So, I suppose that Car-Freshner Corporation USA is wanting to influence designers behavior with this ad placement and disuade them from incorporating the green-colored product configuration trademark into things where it doesn’t belong.
A trademark type inclined to be nervous might also consider placing such an ad to cover the company name too. I’ll have to admit, I was quite surprised to see the trademark registration symbol next to the words Car-Freshner, but a review of the USPTO’s handy online database reveals it, in fact, is presently a federally-registered trademark for “absorbent bodies impregnated with a perfumed air deodorant.” Hmmm, might we add this one to the Genericide Watch list?
What is the generic category term for a car freshener if it isn’t Car-Freshner? I’m thinking the generic product description set forth above and found in the company’s trademark registration from 1959 hasn’t yet caught on and is not likely to catch on anytime soon.
It has too much of a feel like Rollerblade’s “boots equipped with longitudinally aligned rollers used for skating and skiing” example that pre-dated the incarnation of the more consumer-friendly generic “in-line skates” product category name.
So, which registered trademark deserves more attention to help avoid genericness, the green tree design or Car-Freshner?