Turns out, the English language is one big brand graveyard. We have a lot of words that were once trademarked brands.
Aspirin. Cellophane. Escalator.
Yo Yo. Trampoline. Saran wrap.
Yeah, Heroin was a brand. Like Nike. Or Aunt Jemima.
“There used to be a branded form of morphine called heroin,” says Roger Schechter who teaches law at George Washington University. There’s a great list here.
GENERICIDE AND THE MENACE OF SLANG
(Can someone please make a movie with that title?)
In some cases, companies just went out of business and their brand name lived on as nouns. In other cases, the trademark was taken from them. In all cases, the trademarked name had become a generic buzz word for a type of product. The trademark and a company’s rights to it then slip away into the roiling ether of vernacular English.
Intellectual property lawyers have a word for this: Genericide.
“It’s a disaster,” says Schechter: When trademark rights…
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