Genericide

I really enjoyed reading and thinking about this article.

Supreme Court asked to nullify the Google trademark

And, most recently because it just happened on television.  I was watching “Fool us” and Alyson Hannigan had encouraged Penn and Teller to hurry up.  Her quote was

“Can’t you just Google it?”

It did make me stop and think.  Is the message to “just search for it” or is it to “use Google to search for it?”  It was a funny moment in the show and yet I think everyone, everywhere thought it was probably the second option.

It just wouldn’t have the same effect if she has said “Can’t you just Bing it?” or “Can’t you just Lycos it?” or “Can’t you just DuckDuckgo it?”

So, in the article, the author introduced me to the term “genericide”.  I’d never hear it before and the red line underlining it in this editor indicates that it never had either.  In the article, a few other terms that were originally trademarked but lost the status were:

teleprompter, thermos, hoover, aspirin, and videotape

I started to think of other things that reach beyond the original use that I have witnessed.

“Coke” – as in a conversation I heard once about ordering a soft drink when I was at a conference in Atlanta, “What kind of Coke do you have?  I’ll have a Root Beer”.  Of course, there is another use for that word

“Post-it Notes” – as in reminders that my wife leaves stuck to the fridge or kitchen cupboards for the kids and me.  They’re not always from 3M!

“Powerpoint” – as in “I can’t get my Powerpoint to work” – a common affliction you see when you support others doing presentations.  It goes full circle when you realize that their “Powerpoint” is actually a Google Slides document

“Tweet” – as in something you might hear a bird do but now is more commonly used to describe a social media message of up to 140 characters

I always get a kick from going to the grocery store to see the labels on generic or no-name products that are clearly copies of a trademarked original but use a different name to avoid problems.  (Sometimes the different name is actually more descriptive of the product.)

What about you?  Can you think of a term that is used in this manner?

Do you think that Google has become a generic word for search engine?  Should it lose its trademark?

Here’s a starting point for inspiration from Wikipedia.

Author: dougpete

The content of this blog is generated by whatever strikes my fancy at any given point. It might be computers, weather, political, or something else in nature. I experiment and comment a lot on things so don't take anything here too seriously; I might change my mind a day later but what you read is my thought and opinion at the time I wrote it! My personal website is at: http://www.dougpeterson.ca Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dougpete I'm bookmarking things at: http://www.diigo.com/user/dougpete

3 thoughts on “Genericide”

  1. I would say I am a big offender with Kleenex and bandaid. Interestingly, the spellchecker capitalized Kleenex for me but not Band-Aid 🙂 . I used to work as a reporter for a newspaper in our area and once received a lawyer’s letter due to using the word rollerblade with a lowercase as a generic term for in-line skates!

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  2. I often think about this stuff too 🙂 I noticed “wite-out” on the chart on the wikipedia link… opps, I guess that should be with a capital… Wikipedia 🙂 I always thought it was “white-out”. I think I will stick with “liquid paper”. There is always a dried out bottle of the stuff somewhere in our house.

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