Thursday, May 13, 2010

Nerd Word of the Week: Genericide

A Band-Aid bandageImage via Wikipedia
Genericide (n.) - The process of a trademark becoming interchangeable with the type of product the trademark describes, to the point that the trademark is almost totally worthless and legally indefensible. Examples include Band-aids, which are synonymous with any brand of adhesive bandages, Zippers, which are synonymous with any brand of interlocking slide fasteners, and Escalators, which are synonymous with any brand of motorized staircase. All of these previous terms used to be defensibly trademarked, but have since become so popular as to defy being identified with any one company. Next up: Google, which is now a verb and may soon be a genericized trademark.

I bring it up because: Velcro was trademarked 52 years ago today, and its still (barely) holding the line against genericide, forcing imitators to refer to themselves as "hook and loop fasteners." We'll see if Google has the same luck.