Trademark genericide is a term given to a mark or brand name that has become a generic or everyday description for the particular type of service or product it is linked with. A trademark should be non descriptive and therefore ensuring the mark remains only a branding for a product, however some marks are overused by the population and they then loose their distinctiveness and become a generic term. An effective example of genericide is the mark ‘Hoover’, which is now the term widely used to describe the product as opposed to the company brand identity.
Avoiding trademark genericide
Trademark genericide is severely detrimental to mark owners. This is mainly due to the fact that once a mark is rendered as generic and subsequently in common use by the general public, the owner cannot enforce their rights any longer. In effect, when a mark is generic, the protection awarded to the owner no longer exists. Generic trademarks can therefore by used by anyone in whatever context without the risk of the owner being able to bring a case of passing off or infringement.
Where trademark genericide occurs, it is advised that the owners seek the assistance and professional guidance of a trademark attorney or professional consultancy firm that is specialized in handling generic marks. It is also appropriate for owners to consult with a professional on how to avoid trademark genericide in the early stages of creating or registering their mark.
There are many ways to avoid genericide, some of these strategies include:
- Non descriptive trademarks – ensuring your mark does not describe the goods or services it represents.
- Effective wording – use a standard noun or verb as your trademark.
- Distinctiveness – when creating the mark, it is suggested an unusual name or term is best to ensure no direct link with the product or service.
- Advertising – many large multinational companies that rely on their mark as branding can advertise heavily to educate the public that their mark is not a generic word and is solely used for their brand identity.
- Information – it is vital that the general public who are exposed to your mark are informed on how to use the name appropriately, thus avoiding over use or generic association of the trademark.
- Generic descriptors – these are descriptive words used after the mark in a bid to inform the public of the trademark’s description thus deterring them from referring to the mark name as the description itself.
- Reinforcement – always ensure that the generic term is reinforced alongside the actual registered mark in every way possible, from simple conversation to commercial publishing.
- Rights – it is vital that trademark owners aggressively enforce their rights from an early stage to make the market, competitors and the general public aware of the rights the owner of the mark has.
The damages that a generic trademark can cause for a company are numerous and so it is vital to ensure you avoid genericde at all costs particularly if your mark is to be used commercially and on an international scale.
To find out how Starting Business can assist you in avoiding trademark genericide or for assistance with any of your registration needs, please Contact Us.