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Generic trademark

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**Group 1: Genericization of Trademarks**

– In subpopulations:
– Luer-Lok (Luer lock)
– Phoroptor (phoropter)
– Port-a-Cath (portacath)
– Physicians may not realize these are brand names
– Lack of alternative common names contributes to genericization

– In pharmaceuticals:
– Aspirin became generic in the U.S. a century ago
– Pharmaceutical trade names are protected via nonproprietary names
– Examples include aripiprazole (Abilify) and warfarin (Coumadin)
– Aspirin and heroin were genericized trademarks of Bayer AG
– Lipitor was genericized in the U.S. with the approval of generic versions

– Trademark erosion:
– Trademark erosion is related to genericization
– Companies try to prevent trademark erosion
– Once a trademark becomes common, it cannot be registered
– Examples include ‘to hoover’ for vacuum cleaning
– Nintendo successfully fought trademark erosion

**Group 2: Legal Concepts in Trademark Protection**

– Proprietary rights can be enforced if a mark identifies the owner
– Genericized marks lose legal protection
– Trademark rights can diminish due to common use
– Using a trademark as a verb can lead to genericization
– Trademarks in inflected languages may have case endings

**Group 3: Strategies to Avoid Genericization**

– Educating on appropriate trademark use reduces the risk
– Developing generic descriptors helps avoid genericization
– Adding ‘brand’ after a trademark helps define it as such
– Examples include Kleenex tissues and Velcro-brand fasteners
– Johnson & Johnson changed their jingle to emphasize ‘brand’

**Group 4: Importance of Trademark Protection**

– Trademarks help distinguish products/services in the market
– Protection of trademarks prevents confusion among consumers
– Strong trademarks can increase brand value and loyalty
– Trademark protection can lead to legal recourse against infringement
– Trademarks are valuable assets that can be licensed or sold

**Group 5: Impact of Genericide on Companies**

– Companies risk losing their intellectual property rights due to genericide
– Genericide can weaken a company’s competitive advantage
– Rebranding efforts may be necessary to combat genericide
– Companies may face financial losses from the devaluation of their brand
– Maintaining brand recognition while avoiding genericide is a delicate balance

Generic trademark (Wikipedia)

A generic trademark, also known as a genericized trademark or proprietary eponym, is a trademark or brand name that, because of its popularity or significance, has become the generic term for, or synonymous with, a general class of products or services, usually against the intentions of the trademark's owner.

A 2009 sign in a supermarket using "Jell-O" generically, rather than "gelatin"

A trademark is prone to genericization, or "genericide", when a brand name acquires substantial market dominance or mind share, becoming so widely used for similar products or services that it is no longer associated with the trademark owner, e.g., linoleum, bubble wrap, thermos, taser. A trademark thus popularized is at risk of being challenged or revoked, unless the trademark owner works sufficiently to correct and prevent such broad use.

Trademark owners can inadvertently contribute to genericization by failing to provide an alternative generic name for their product or service or using the trademark in similar fashion to generic terms. In one example, the Otis Elevator Company's trademark of the word "escalator" was cancelled following a petition from Toledo-based Haughton Elevator Company. In rejecting an appeal from Otis, an examiner from the United States Patent and Trademark Office cited the company's own use of the term "escalator" alongside the generic term "elevator" in multiple advertisements without any trademark significance. Therefore, trademark owners go to extensive lengths to avoid genericization and trademark erosion.

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