Verb it up? Why becoming generic might be good for a trade mark

Have we not always learned that becoming "generic" is one of the worst things that can ever happen to a trade mark?

Well, think again...! While it is still a sensible strategy to advise trade mark owners how to prevent their trade mark from becoming generic, it appears that some businesses are changing their mind regarding this point and actually appear to like the idea of trade marks that can be "verbed up". At least, this is what Noam Cohen argues in this week's The New York Times' article "The Power of the Brand as Verb ". A quick and interesting read.

Picture from

Thanks go to for alerting the IPKat to this article. After reading the article, Merpel wonders whether it is a good or bad thing that the term "IPKat" does not necessarily lend itself to genericism...
Verb it up? Why becoming generic might be good for a trade mark Verb it up?  Why becoming generic might be good for a trade mark Reviewed by Birgit Clark on 13:50:00 Rating: 5


Diderot said...

Verb it up? Why becoming generic might be good for the public

Let´s appreciate all philantropical trade mark owner as Judges Richard Posner and Frank Easterbrook did in Ty Inc. v. Perryman, 306 F.3d 509(7th Cir. 2002). p.9:

“Although there is a social cost when a mark becomes generic—the trademark owner has to invest in a new trademark to identify his brand—there is also a social benefit, namely an addition to ordinary language. A nontrivial number of words in common use began life as trademarks. See, e.g., Shawn M. Clankie, “Brand Name Use in Creative Writing: Genericide or Language Right?”
in Perspectives on Plagiarism and Intellectual Property in a Postmodern World 253 (Lisa Buranen and Alice M. Royeds. 1999); Monroe Friedman, “The Changing Language of
a Consumer Society: Brand Name Usage in Popular American Novels in the Postwar Era,” 11 Journal of Consumer Research 927 (1985). An interpretation of antidilution law as arming trademark owners to enjoin uses of their mark that, while not confusing, threaten to render the mark generic may therefore not be in the public interest.”

Nikos Prentoulis said...

I'm old school and think that the "profit now - think later" strategy is not really beneficial, unless you don't care about free-riders or your purpose is to do away with a brand really fast. It may make some sense in the IT industry, but, in court, the road from famous to generic is not very long.

Anonymous said...

I supposed one could be "tuftied" or "merpeled".

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