A generic trademark, also known as a genericized trademark, is a term or phrase that has become so commonly used to describe a product or service that it has lost its trademark protection. This occurs when the term is used to describe a whole category of products or services, rather than just the specific brand associated with the trademark.
Some examples of former trademarks that have become genericized include aspirin, escalator, and thermos. These terms were once protected under trademark law, but their widespread use in describing similar products from different brands led to their loss of protection.
The risk of a trademark becoming genericized is more significant for popular products or services, as the trademark can become so synonymous with the category that it becomes difficult to protect. This can be detrimental to the brand associated with the trademark, as it can lose its unique identity and the ability to prevent competitors from using similar trademarks.
To avoid having a trademark become genericized, companies should use their trademark consistently and promote its unique identity. Companies should also avoid using their trademark as a verb or noun, which can lead to it becoming a generic term.
If a trademark does become genericized, it can be challenging to regain protection. The trademark owner may need to take legal action to stop others from using the term generically and take steps to promote the unique identity of the brand associated with the trademark.
In summary, a generic trademark is a term or phrase that has lost its trademark protection due to widespread use to describe a category of products or services. To prevent a trademark from becoming genericized, companies should use it consistently and promote its unique identity. If a trademark does become genericized, legal action may be required to regain protection.