Brand Names That We Call Generic Products


How many products can you think just off the top of your head that have become widely known by their generic names?

There is an actual term for this — It’s known as “Genericide”. This is the term used when a product name becomes a generic name for the item. Check out the examples a little further down the page. Some items that fall into that category include baby oil, bandages, zippers, trampolines, thermos, cellophane, escalator and dry ice.

The “trademarks” in the list below are still legally protected as such but are often times commonly used by consumers in reference to an item in general or in a generic sense. As a rule, these names are still widely known by the public at large as “brand names”. The competition, however, knows better than to use them.

We’re not really supposed to say “kleenex” when we want “tissue,” but some of us still do. Another example is Scotch tape when referring to generic tape — Another is Xerox when we mean photocopy.

Here’s a list of several more examples:

  • “AstroTurf” when we mean artificial turf
  • “Band-Aid” when we mean adhesive bandage
  • “Bondo” when we mean auto body filler
  • “Brillo Pad” (or “SOS Pad”) when referring to any type of scouring pad made with steel wool embedded with soap
  • “Bubble Wrap” when we mean inflated cushioning
  • “ChapStick” when we mean lip balm
  • “Clearasil” when we refer to an acne medication for the face  and skin care
  • “Clorox” when referring to any bleach
  • “Coke” when referring to any soft drink or soda pop in general
  • “Crayola” when we mean crayons
  • “Crazy Glue” when referring to any type of fast-acting or instant glue
  • “Crock-Pot” when we mean slow cooker
  • “Cuisinart” when we mean food processor
  • “Dictaphone” when we mean dictation machine
  • “Discman” when we mean portable personal CD player
  • “Dust Off” when we mean canned air spray or compressed air used as a dust cleaner for keyboards and electronic items
  • “Elmer’s” when referring to any type of adhesive glue
  • “Formica” when we mean plastic or wood laminate
  • “Frigidaire” when we mean refrigerator
  • “Frisbee” when we mean flying disc
  • “Glad Wrap” or “Handy Wrap” or “Saran Wrap” when we mean plastic wrap cling film
  • “Google” when we mean looking up something in a search engine
  • “Hacky Sack” when we mean footbag
  • “Hoover” when we mean vacuum cleaner
  • “Hersheys” (or “Nestle Quick” or “Carnation”) when we mean chocolate syrup
  • “Hula Hoop” when we mean toy hoop ring
  • “iPod” when referring to any type of personal portable media player
  • “Jacuzzi” when referring to any hot tub or whirlpool bath
  • “Jeep” when referring to any compact sport utility vehicle
  • “Jell-O” when we mean gelatin dessert
  • “Jet Ski” when referring to any stand-up personal watercraft
  • “JumboTron” when referring to any large screen television
  • “Kleenex” when we mean facial tissue
  • “Kool-Aid” when we mean cold sweetened flavored drink
  • “Kotex” when we mean tampons or soft feminine hygiene pads.
  • “LazyBoy” when we mean recliner
  • “Levis” when referring to denim jeans
  • “Matchbox” or “Hot Wheels” when referring to any die cast toy cars
  • “Nintendo” when referring to any older video game console or system
  • “NOS” (“Nitrous Oxcide Systems”) when referring to any nitrous systems
  • “Onesies” when we mean an infant bodysuit
  • “Otter Pops” when we mean ice pop or any plastic tube-filled-frozen-snack with flavored sugary liquid
  • “Pam” when we mean a cooking spray to keep the frying pan or similar pot from having food stick to it.
  • “Pampers” when we mean diapers.
  • “Photoshop” when we mean photo manipulation
  • “Ping Pong” when we mean table tennis
  • “Play-Doh” when referring to a modeling compound clay for children
  • “Pledge” when we mean furniture spray
  • “Polaroid” when we mean instant photograph or instant camera
  • “Popsicle” when we mean an ice pop or any frozen confectionary treat on a stick
  • “Porta-Potty” when referring to a portable self-contained outhouse
  • “Post-its” when we mean sticky notes
  • “PowerPoint” when we mean electronic presentation
  • “Q-tips” when we mean cotton swabs
  • “Rollerblade” when referring to inline skates
  • “Scotch Tape” when we mean clear adhesive tape
  • “Sea-Doo” when we mean sit-down personal watercraft
  • “Semtex” when we mean plastic explosive
  • “Sharpie” when we mean permanent marker
  • “Ski-Doo” when we mean snowmobile
  • “Scott Towels” (or maybe “Bounty”) when we mean paper towels
  • “Speedo” when we mean skin-tight swim briefs
  • “Stanley Knife” when we mean utility knife
  • “Styrofoam” when we are referring to extruded polystyrene foam
  • “Super Heroes” when we mean superhero (“Super Heroes” is co-owned and trademarked by Marvel & DC Comics)
  • “Tampex” when referring to tampons
  • “Tarmac” when referring to asphalt road surface
  • “Taser” when we mean electroshock weapon
  • “Teflon” when we mean a type of cookware for the stove with a protective coating on the inside to keep food from sticking to it.
  • “Tonka” when referring to any type of kid’s toy trucks
  • “Trojans” when referring to condoms
  • “Tupperware” when referring to any type of modular food storage containers
  • “Tylenol” when we referring to any over-the-counter pain reliever/fever reducer
  • “Vaseline” when we mean petroleum jelly
  • “Velcro” when referring to any hook-and-loop fastener
  • “Walkie-Talkie” when referring to any portable handheld radio or two-way radio transceiver
  • “Walkman” when we mean portable personal stereo player
  • “WaveRunner” when referring to any personal watercraft
  • “Wet Naps” or “Handi-Wipes” when referring to a moist towelette or wet wipe
  • “Windex” when referring to any glass and/or hard surface cleaner
  • “Winnebago” when referring to any Class A Recreational Vehicle or motorhome
  • “Wite-Out” when we mean correction fluid
  • “X-Acto Knife” when referring to a precise cutting utility knife
  • “Xerox” when we mean photocopier or to make a photocopy
  • “Zig Zag” when referring to any rolling papers used for marijuana or tobacco
  • “Ziplock Bags” when referring to any type of reusable, re-sealable zipper type storage bags
  • “Zippo” when referring to refillable lighters

 

————————————————————————————————————————

Below are a few examples of trademarks that have lost their legal protection — at least in the United States:

  • “Aspirin” — originally a trademark of Bayer AG
  • “Cellophane” — originally a trademark of DuPont
  • “Dry Ice” — originally a trademark by Dry Ice Corporation of America
  • “Escalator” — originally a trademark of the Otis Elevator Company
  • “Kerosene” — originally trademarked by Abraham Gesner
  • “Mimeograph” — originally trademarked by Albert Dick
  • “Thermos” — originally a trademark of Thermos GmbH
  • “Touch-Tone” — originally a trademark of AT&T
  • “Trampoline” — originally trademarked by George Nissen
  • “Videotape” — originally a trademark of Ampex Corporation
  • “Yo-Yo” — originally a trademark of Duncan Yo-Yo Company
  • “Zipper” — originally a trademark of B.F. Goodrich

While linoleum, coined by its inventor and patent holder Frederick Walton, is the first product ruled by a court as generic, it was never trademarked.

Are there any others that you can think of that apply to this subject?



10 Responses

  1. [...] generic name. I’ve always found this extremely interesting so I did some research to find a list of brands that have evolved to become generic product names. At first, when I thought about it, I felt that [...]

  2. [...] Sources: About.com, The Washington Post, Broken Secrets, Database of American Proprietary Eponyms, Brand Names that We Call Generic Products [...]

  3. [...] Sources: About.com, The Washington Post, Broken Secrets, Database of American Proprietary Eponyms, Brand Names that We Call Generic Products [...]

  4. How About Saran Wrap

  5. My multi-tools get called “Leatherman” all the time. Even though none of them are that particular brand.

  6. Sheet Rock when you mean dry wall or gypsum wall board.

  7. [...] to a specific brand dominating the market. That’s a confusing statement, so let me give you some examples. All of these are commonly used products that we use a brand name instead of the item name to [...]

  8. [...] the same time, the use of even arbitrary and fanciful marks can backfire. Remember Xerox, Yo-Yo, and [...]

  9. [...] problem to watch out for is trademarks becoming generic. Some of the better known examples of this may be identified as Frisbee, Hoover, and Hula Hoop; all [...]

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