Official: health can damage your brands

Every brand owner's book of nightmare scenarios is likely to contain one in which your popular brand gives its name to a medical condition. Something not dissimilar happened back in the 1980s, when appetite suppressant AYDS was all but driven from the market once Auto-Immune Deficiency Syndrome was handily termed AIDS -- but that was just a case of hard luck, being the wrong brand name at the wrong time.  

Right: the IPKat has become a victim of PlayStation Paw

Owners of the PlayStation and Wii trade marks and brands must be feeling most disgrunted at an article that appeared in this morning's Telegraph, penned by Rebecca Smith, the Telegraph medical editor, under the title "Excessive PlayStation gaming causes new skin condition" (you can read it here).

The article discusses a skin condition displayed by a 12-year-old girl in Switzerland, who developed lesions on her hands after playing on her games console for several hours every day:
"Dermatologists have called the condition PlayStation palmar hidradenitis and said the condition cleared up after the patient stopped paying altogether for ten days. The lesions in the standard version of the disorder normally appear on the soles of the feet in children who play lots of sport or take part in intensive physical exercise such as jogging. It it thought to be connected to intense sweating but it is very unusual for it to appear on the hands. Doctors at the Geneva University Hospital in Switzerland found the girl had not played any sport and the lesions only appeared after she had started to play on her PlayStation for several hours a day".
WebMD Jennifer Warner has written on another condition, Wiitis, or Nintendinitis, in a healthy 29-year-old male medical resident who woke up one morning with intense pain in the right shoulder. He hadn’t participated in any sports or physical exercise recently, but he had just purchased a Nintendo Wii video game system and had spent several hours playing the tennis video game.

The IPKat is most concerned at the (mis)appropriation of valuable intellectual property assets for this purpose, not just in terms of the damage it can do to brand values but because of the encouragement it gives to people to use trade marks as generic terms. It also adds a new dimension to the due diligence exercise that accompanies the assignment of a brand-based business: now teams of junior lawyers will be told to go away and check out target brands in the various medical databases.  Merpel says, what we really need is a good Latin term for words like PlayStation so that the related medical condition sounds like a much more serious condition ...

Do readers know of any other medical conditions that have been named after brands? If so, please tell us.
Official: health can damage your brands Official: health can damage your brands Reviewed by Jeremy on Wednesday, February 25, 2009 Rating: 5


  1. That reminds me of something:

  2. Who did the girl stop "paying"? Her dermatologist?

  3. For years I've suffered Hoover elbow - to the point where I can now justify never cleaning the house. The Latin for that should sound convincing - if only I could remember any of my O-level!

  4. Many years ago P&G sold a rather strong washing powder under the trade mark "Tide". It caused a skin condition on many users hands. It was not customary in those PM days to wear gloves for housework. [PM = pre-Marigold]
    The doctors referred to the common skin condition as "Tide Hands". P&G no longer sell detergent powder in the UK using this mark.

  5. There is always Play Station Thumb (or perhaps even “lascivio constituo pollex”?); that’s been around for a while.

  6. The problem is that this phenomenon has been around as long as gaming. Because the official medical term for overuse of muscles is usually ‘tendinitis’, (that is basically what tennis elbow or repetitive strain injury (RSI) is) the names Nintendo and Wii lend themselves so easily to the addition of “itis” to create medical sounding terms. They also catch the eye of readers leading to a greater number of reads then if a more generic ‘video gamer’s tendinitis’ was used. As you can see from this selection of gaming references the idea is definitely not new! There are over 1,000 articles in the medical field alone talking about the effects of video gaming (both positive and negative). Even Nike, Blackberry and IPod have both positives and negatives in the medical world! (Refs 20-24) From the lack of activity by IP owners it would seem that they are not too worried by such reports – and for that matter the buying public also seem unaffected (much to their relief!).

    1: Achilles wiiitis. Beddy P, Dunne R, de Blacam C. AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2009 Feb;192(2):W79.
    2: Sex differences in Nintendo Wii performance as expected from hunter-gatherer selection. Cherney ID, Poss JL. Psychol Rep. 2008 Jun;102(3):745-54.
    3: ''Playstation eyetoy games'' improve upper extremity-related motor functioning in subacute stroke: a randomized controlled clinical trial. Yavuzer G, Senel A, Atay MB, Stam HJ. Eur J Phys Rehabil Med. 2008 Sep;44(3):237-44. Epub 2008 May 10.
    4: Wii knee. Robinson RJ, Barron DA, Grainger AJ, Venkatesh R. Emerg Radiol. 2008 Jul;15(4):255-7. Epub 2008 Mar 14.
    5: Magnetic resonance imaging of acute "wiiitis" of the upper extremity. Nett MP, Collins MS, Sperling JW. Skeletal Radiol. 2008 May;37(5):481-3. Epub 2008 Feb 8.
    6: Acute Wiiitis. Bonis J. N Engl J Med. 2007 Jun 7;356(23):2431-2
    7: Playstation thumb--a new epidemic in children. Karim SA. S Afr Med J. 2005 Jun;95(6):412
    8: Playstation thumb. Vaidya HJ. Lancet. 2004 Mar 27;363(9414):1080.
    9: White-out from a Wii: traumatic haemothorax sustained playing Nintendo Wii. Peek AC, Ibrahim T, Abunasra H, Waller D, Natarajan R. Ann R Coll Surg Engl. 2008 Sep;90(6):W9-10.
    10: The "How!" sign--a central palmar blister induced by overplaying on a Nintendo console. Wood DJ. Arch Dis Child. 2001 Apr;84(4):288.
    11: Nintendo elbow. Bright DA, Bringhurst DC. West J Med. 1992 Jun;156(6):667-8.
    12: Nintendo neck. Miller DL. CMAJ. 1991 Nov 15;145(10):1202.
    13: Nintendo enuresis. Schink JC. Am J Dis Child. 1991 Oct;145(10):1094.
    14: Nintendo epilepsy. Hart EJ. N Engl J Med. 1990 May 17;322(20):1473.
    15: Use of dermoscopy to visualize punctate hemorrhages and onycholysis in "playstation thumb". Bakos RM, Bakos L. Arch Dermatol. 2006 Dec;142(12):1664-5.
    16: PlayStation lip. Inglis RL, Welbury RR. Br Dent J. 2000 Jun 10;188(11):585.
    17: RSI and Space Invaders. Browne C. Med J Aust. 1985 Jan 7;142(1):76-7.
    18: Seizures and hand-held space invaders. Jeavons PM, Barton ME, Bishop A. Lancet. 1981 Oct 3;2(8249):758.
    19: Space Invaders' wrist. McCowan TC. N Engl J Med. 1981 May 28;304(22):1368.
    20. Nike training shoe dermatitis. Hanifin JM. Arch Dermatol. 1978 Feb;114(2):289.
    21: Rx for BlackBerry thumb. Consum Rep. 2009 Jan;74(1):12.
    22: Medical software available for the blackberry. Comput Inform Nurs. 2008 Mar-Apr;26(2):68.
    23: Pacemaker interference with an iPod. Patel MB, Thaker JP, Punnam S, Jongnarangsin K. Heart Rhythm. 2007 Jun;4(6):781-4.
    24: A sip-and-puff wireless remote control for the Apple iPod. Jones M, Grogg K, Anschutz J, Fierman R. Assist Technol. 2008 Summer;20(2):107-10.

  7. Nothing to do with gaming, but I am reminded of a news article in the FT some years ago with the headline "Mars too toxic to support life". Not as catchy a slogan as the "work, rest and play" one.


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