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
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
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
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
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
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 .