Genericization (Genericide)

Refers to the loss of trademark rights because the mark comes to be used as a generic name for the class of goods and loses distinctiveness. The best-known example was Aspirin, originally registered as a trademark by Bayer for the sodium salt of acetyl salicylic acid. As the term came to be used for the drug in general, regardless of supplier, Bayer lost exclusive rights to the mark in most countries. Trademarks often used as examples of being close to genericization are Hoover®, Xerox® (who promoted the generic term ‘photocopy’) and Walkman®

It is concern about the risk of genercide that is the underlying reason why companies with valuable trademarks so aggressivly enforce their trademark rights, launching what look like bullying David v. Goliath attacks, with warning letters and lawsuits against many small businesses.  From a marketing perspective they are faced with only poor options, to take the public relations damage from appearing litigious and vindictive, or potentially lose their trademarks; this hard reality does not prevent journalists from excoriating them.

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