IP Topics & ArticlesGenericides – how they are established in Turkish daily life


A legal term for generification: the historical process whereby a brand name or trademark is transformed through popular usage into a common word in use .

One of the earliest uses of the term genericide (from the Latin words for "kind, class" and "killing") was in the late 1970s when it was used to characterize Parker Brothers' initial loss of the trademark Monopoly. The decision was overturned in 1984, and Parker Brothers continues to hold the trademark for the board game.

Due to expert’s observations the term genericide is a malapropism: It refers to the death of the trademark, not to the death of the generic name for the product.

From a trademark owner's perspective, a genericide is some kind of ironical;

The trademark owner has been so successful in making its mark well-known that he loses protection for the mark.

An outstanding example ‘Thermos’ :

For many years the word ‘Thermos ‘ was a registered trademark in the U.S.

It lost this status in 1963 when a court ruled that Thermos had become a popular generic term for a vacuum flask. In other words, the trademark had experienced genericide. In some countries ‘Thermos ‘has retained its status as a trademark.

If the trademark 'Thermos' had not been held by a federal appeals court to be a generic term, what other word than 'thermos' would today's competing manufacturers use to describe their products?

The fear of genericide scares the proprietors like Kleenex, Xerox, Walkman and a lot of others who worry about competitors being able to steal the names and the reputation they have earned for their own products.

Writers who use the names as verbs, common nouns, or in small letter print may find themselves faced with a cease-and-desist letter.


Genericides in Turkish habitual language usage :

Aspirin ( TR : aspirin ) applied in Turkish habitual language usage generically for all painkillers ;
Still a Bayer trademark name for acetylsalicylic acid in about 80 countries, but declared generic in the U.S

Sellotape ( TR : seloteyp) assimilated in Turkish for all adhesive tapes ;
Sellotape is a British brand of transparent, cellulose-based, pressure-sensitive adhesive tape.
The term has become a genericised trademark in the UK, Ireland, Australia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Israel, India, Serbia, Japan, Croatia, Greece, Turkey, Macedonia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa,
and is used much in the same way that ‘Scotch Tape’ came to be used in Canada and the United States, in referring to any brand of clear adhesive tape.

Thermos (TR : termos) originally a Thermos GmbH trademark name for a vacuum flask;
used by Turkish consumers as a generic verb for all
thermos flask or mugs

Cola ( TR : kola) for Turkish consumers refering to any soft drink or to any cola even of
another trademark ; still a trademark

Teflon ( TR : teflon) used generically to refer to non sticking coating cookware ,still a
trademark by DuPont

Vaseline (TR : vazelin) used by consumers as if it is generic ,but still a legally recognized
trademark by Unilever

Gillette ( TR : jilet) is a brand of men's safety razors, still owned as trademark by Proctor &
Gamble; used in Turkish language as if it is generic for all razorblades

Beyond that, the term ‘ jilet ‘ (Gillette ,same pronunciation ) has been so much assimilated in Turkish language usage that you can find even several ingrained idioms .The most frequently used is for fashionable juveniles approached to be dressed like a gillette ( jilet gibi) which means having a very charismatic dressing style.

Genericides are a demonstration of the consumer’s power over brands.

Trademarks transformed by consumer’s conception and everyday language usage to an equivalent term of the products they were branded for.
It will be an ongoing challenge in trademark protection to keep the ballance between trademark holder’s rights and consumer’s latitude of using the marks .

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