15 Product Trademarks That Have Become Victims of Genericization - Consumerist
Sometimes, we hurt the ones we love. Which is why even if we didn’t mean to be so harsh, many products we use every day have become the victims of trademark genericization, meaning they’ve morphed from a single product identified under a name to an entire product category. And when courts get involved it becomes “genericide,” which sounds even more murderous. Can’t you just imagine Law & Order: Genericized Trademarks? [dun dun]
While some of the 15 products below are truly victims of genericide, having had their trademarks canceled in a court, others simply failed to register as trademarks at all, or in some cases, weren’t renewed or were abandoned for other reasons. Which means now you can have your own escalator company or sell flooring and call it linoleum. Wouldn’t suggest setting up your own heroin company, however.
15 GENERICIZED TRADEMARKS 1. Aspirin: Formally known as acetylsalicylic acid, aspirin was created in 1897 and originally trademarked by Bayer AG. The name means “pain relief, speed, reliability and tolerability,” according to Bayer. Aspirin comes from “acetyl” and Spirsäure, a German name for salicylic acid. Its time as a trademarked word would be short — in 1917 many of Bayer’s U.S. assets were confiscated as a result of World War 1, including its patents and trademarks.
2. Heroin: Speaking of losing trademarks, heroin was also stripped from Bayer in 1917. The drug derived from morphine was named trademarked by the company in 1898 based on the German word heroisch, which means “heroic, strong.” Couldn’t find mention of its heroin history on Bayer, which is unsurprising.