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Beware the dangers of genericide

On Behalf of | Aug 13, 2021 | Trademarks |

Businesses want their logos, slogans, and other marks to pervade the consumer market. In other words, they want instant association with their company and their brand as soon as those logos, slogans, and other marks are seen and heard. It takes time, effort, and money to build a strong brand, which is why business owners should do everything they can to protect it. This includes utilizing applicable trademark laws to ensure that others aren’t benefiting from their brand name while also harming the brand’s reputation.

The dangers of a mark’s overuse

Yet, even once trademark protection is obtained it can quickly become watered down if you’re not careful. This is especially true in instances where a mark becomes so widely used that it essentially loses its source-identifying features. In these cases, the mark becomes synonymous with the good or service itself. This is known as genericide.

Escalator, for example, was originally a trademarked name for what we all know to be moving stairs. Over time, though, that mark has lost its ability to identify the maker of those stairs and has instead been associated with moving stairs itself.

Many companies, especially those that become enormously popular in niche markets, struggle with genericide. Xerox, for example, has launched entire campaigns on this issue in the past, essentially asking consumers to say “copying” when engaging in the process of making photocopies rather than saying “Xeroxing.”

Protecting your trademark rights

There’s only so much you can do to control how your marks are used in everyday conversation. However, there are things that you can do to ensure that your trademarks are strong, distinguishable, and policed. Oftentimes, taking these proactive steps, such as by sending cease and desist letters to infringers, is the best way to protect your interests. If you’d like to learn more about trademark law and what it can do for you and your business, consider reaching out to a law firm like ours that focuses on this area of intellectual property.