- Google, Taser, and Xerox are all examples of brand names that have become generic words for a type of product.
- The process is known as genericization, and in some cases, it can result in companies losing their trademark.
- Escalator and kerosene are some lesser-known examples of brand names that have turned into ordinary words.
Sometimes there is a downside to being successful.
In the corporate world, if a company's product is popular enough, it risks something called genericization, which is when the public associates the brand name with the generic class of product itself.
That's the fate that befell Kleenex. Although Kleenex is a registered trademark of Kimberly-Clark Corporation, for many consumers, the word has become interchangeable with "tissue."
Other brand names that have fallen victim to genericization include Google, Taser, and Xerox. Even common words like kerosene and escalator were once trademarked.
We've compiled a list of 34 famous brands that have become genericized, either formally or informally. While all of them have been trademarked at some point in their histories, a few of them have actually lost legal protection due to their name's widespread popularity.
Introduced in: 1960
Company: Sealed Air Corporation
What it's supposed to be called: Air bubble packaging
Bubble Wrap, in all its poppable glory, was originally called Air Cap. Its inventors first tried to market it as wallpaper, and later as greenhouse insulation. A few years later, it started being used as packaging material, and became popular after it started being used as packaging for IBM computers.
Introduced in: 1936
Company: Dempster Brothers
What it's supposed to be called: Mobile garbage bin
In a mashup of 'Dempster' and 'dump', Dumpster came into being as a mechanical loading system. The term didn't become popular until the company came up with the Dempter Dumpmaster, which was the first front-loading garbage truck that used the system. Unfortunately for the Dempsters, the trademarks on Dumpster have now expired, and it's used to refer to any mobile garbage bin.