Crossing the Line into Genericide


Trademark attorneys constantly tell clients not to use their trademarks as a noun or a verb; trademarks are adjectives that describe who makes a specific product or offers a specific service.  To allow your trademark to be used as a noun or a verb runs risks your trademark becoming generic, and losing your rights to stop competitors from using confusingly similar names.

Xerox is still spending boatloads of money to educate the media that you cannot Xerox something — Xerox is a specific brand of photocopying equipment.  Kleenex brand facial tissues and Band-Aid brand bandages are fighting this battle against genericide now.

I just saw the following headline in my Facebook feed: “Celebrities Who CrossFit To Stay in Shape.” (For the uninitiated, CrossFit is an exercise program that uses movements such as sprinting, rowing, jumping rope, climbing rope, flipping tires, weightlifting, carrying heavy objects, and many bodyweight exercises using  barbells, dumbbells, gymnastics rings, pull-up bars, kettlebells, medicine balls, and  jumping over boxes).

It got me thinking whether the publicity value in the public using your brand name as a verb outweighs the benefits of trademark protection.  (Did you Google anything today?)

What do you think?

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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