Carnie: Mary, Mother of God! I cut my hand on a rubber band! Do you sell Band-Aids?
Randal: "Band-Aid" is a brand name! The proper term is "adhesive strips".
Dante: The man is bleeding to death and you're getting into a semantics argument?
Randal: Man! Name-brand word association is one of the more subtle threats to this nation's free trade! It gives the larger, well-known companies an unfair advantage. I'm doing my part to keep the playing field level by weaning people off of referring to generic products with brand names!
Dante: Way to show some backbone.
A Brand Name Takeover
occurs whenever a trademark
or brand name has become the colloquial or generic description for a specific type of product, rather than just the specific product created by the original trademark holder. This typically happens when the product in question has become so dominant in the market that the brand is the first thing people think about when they think of the type
of product the brand represents. Additionally, if you look at the lists below, it is most common in instances where the trademarked product is the first of its kind - thus (especially if it was also patented thus meaning the new product was the only
one of its kind) it often was the only name the public knew for this new widget. Famous examples include the Thermos, the Escalator and Elevator, the Breathalyzer, and Shredded Wheat.
This phenomenon tends to annoy the companies that hold the trademarks, because unless the company works sufficiently to prevent such broad use of its trademark, its intellectual property rights to the trademark may be lost, as the mark cannot do its job of identifying the specific product anymore. For example, "cellophane" was originally a trademark owned by the Du Pont Corporation; its widespread use as a generic name for any sort of plastic food wrap, regardless of the actual brand, caused Du Pont to lose the trademark, so now anyone can call their plastic wrap "cellophane". In other words, Randal's assessment of the situation in the page quote is incorrect
— the largest companies are at a disadvantage
as compared to their competition. Naturally, most companies rather strenuously object to this happening, leading to situations where they are Stuck on Band-Aid Brand
in an attempt to stop it.
Note that some of the examples below only count in certain parts of the world, in others it may be called by its actual non-branded designation, or by a different Brand Name Takeover
So common you've probably Seen It a Million Times
. Believe it or not
, this trope is Older Than Radio
. Known as a "genericized trademark
" on The Other Wiki
. Generally called the "Kleenex Effect" in (nicely self-demonstrating) marketing jargon. See also I Am Not Shazam
Incidentally, the legal drive to protect trademarks is often blamed for popular franchises being Screwed by the Lawyers
- as well as companies doing so being labeled Predatory Businesses
open/close all folders
A - F
- Accutane (Isotretinoin, an acne medication)
- Accucheck (blood glucose monitor): The first brand of home blood glucose monitors for diabetics. Now there are monitors produced by other manufacturers, but regardless of the brand used in a particular hospital, that hospital's doctors will write orders to test the patient's "accucheck".
- Adidas (shoes): all running shoes, in Poland and Romania
- AFL (Australian Rules Football): Deriving from the dominant club league of the sport, the Australian Football League (AFL). People pretty much only ever either call it "AFL" or "Aussie Rules". In the U.S., it's pretty much "Aussie Rules", as "AFL" tends to mean "Arena League" (an indoor variant of American Football) and occasionally the old American Football League (which was the NFL's rival during the 60s before it merged with it, becoming the AFC)
- Airstream (streamlined aluminum travel trailer)
- Aleve (naproxen sodium, a NSAID painkiller and anti-inflammatory drug)
- In the UK, the similar NSAID ibuprofen is generally referred to as Nurofen - the first and most commonly available brandname of the drug .
- Ant Farm (a formicarium): Became the topic of a Dilbert strip when Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, received letters from "Uncle Milton's", the company that owns the trademark. He had to print a retraction and apology. Well, maybe apology is too strong a word...
Dilbert: So, what do you call a habitat for worthless and disgusting little creatures?
Dogbert: Law school.
- Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid); the Bayer company lost the trademark in most Allied nations shortly after World War I as part of war reparations, but holds it in Germany, Canada and Mexico, among others. In the UK, up until quite recently, aspirin tablets were commonly called Anadins after the earliest brandname for them.
- AstroTurf (artificial turf).
- Auto-Tune (pitch correction software): mostly in reference to its use as a distortion style.
- Baja-Maja (portable toilet): in Sweden.
- Band-Aid (adhesive bandages): despite all the best efforts of the Johnson & Johnson people.
- This is why the charity supergroup and organization (known for their hit "Do They Know It's Christmas) had to change their name to Live Aid.
- In the UK these are known as "sticking plasters" or simply "plasters", and the equivalent genericised trademark is Elastoplast.
- Bell System (telephone company, often referred to as "Ma Bell")
- Bic (disposable lighters, ball-point pens or safety razors, depending on context)
- Bimbo bread (white bread and/or whole wheat bread in Mexico): Due to the bakery that has a decades-long monopoly over white/whole wheat bread in Mexico. The brand is used for all bread products so it hasn't lost its trademark protection, but "pan bimbo" is generically used to refer to that kind of bread even if it isn't Bimbo-brand breadnote .
- Biro (ball-point pens): in Britain among others, though named after its Hungarian inventor.
- Bondo, used as a term for polyester automotive body filler in the US.
- Bostitch (stapler): Switzerland
- In the rest of the world: a song by the swiss electronic duo Yello (a yelled hello, if you're wondering).
- Blu-Tack (reusable adhesive putty): in Britain and Australia
- The same stuff is referred to as Fun-Tak™ in at least parts of the US.
- And Mack-Tack in Canada after a now-defunct brand
- Brahma (beer): in Brazil
- Breathalyzer (A device used to measure blood alcohol content by analyzing exhaled breath): Originally trademarked by Smith & Wesson, now owned by National Draeger. Most people aren't even aware that this is actually a brand name.
- Browning: Semi-automatic handgun, usage is generally more common in Europe
- Bubble Wrap (inflated cushioning)
- Bubbler (drinking fountain)
- BVDs, underwear, mostly men's underwear.
- Camelbak (A large water container worn on the back, with a straw coming out that can be reached by the mouth): Popular with cyclists and others who engage in strenuous outdoors exercise in desert climates. The ripoff versions are almost universally called "camel backs", not helped by the lack of any other even vaguely non-awkward term.
- Cappy (orange juice): in Austria
- Cellophane (plastic food wrap)
- Cling Wrap gets much the same use in the USA and Canada
- In the UK it's known as Cling Film.
- Cheezies (cheese curl) in Canada.
- Cheerios (General Mills) and Rice Krispies (Kellogg's) are still under trademark protection in the U.S., but Frosted Flakes are not.
- For that matter, any generic cereal will be known as its more popular counterpart, like referring to "Marshmallows n Stars" as "Lucky Charms".
- Also, Raisin Bran (wheat flakes with raisins)
- ChapStick (lip balm)
- When it's in stick form anyway. If it's squeezed out of a tube like toothpaste, it's more likely to be called just lip balm.
- Carmex, another brand of lip balm.
- Chiclets (any sort of gum) in Brazil; in the rest of Latin America gum is "chicle", from the tree from which early forms of chewing gum were made (nowadays it's usually a synthetic).
- Chupa Chups (lollipop) in Italy, Romania, Latin America and Russia.
- Cirque (contemporary circus): Zig-zagging in that this isn't an actual brand name, but is treated as such. Because Cirque du Soleil popularized contemporary circus in North America, it has become common to refer to that genre as "cirque", which is actually the French word for "circus" (CDS originated in Montreal). Mockbuster troupes such as Cirque Productions that have no reason to use the French word in their names except to confuse audiences sprung up. CDS got fed up and tried suing that particular company for using it; they lost, due to the word being common and thus unable to be trademarked.
- Claymation (clay-based stop-motion animation, or stop-motion in general): a trademark of Will Vinton Productions
- CliffsNotes (student study guides): If someone is mentioning a study guide for a novel, they'll say "CliffsNotes" or erroneously "Cliff Notes".
- Or SparkNotes
- Or Monarch Notes
- Clorox (bleach): in the United States. For Canadians, it's Javex.
- In some areas of the United States, Hi-Lex (bleach) is used instead.
- In parts of Brazil, Q-Boa (bleach).
- Coke, a trademark of Coca-Cola, has come to refer to any brand of cola. Very rarely is the pedestrian definition of "coke" (the purified form of bituminous coal used for fuel) used. In some parts of the American South, the use of the word "coke" has spread to mean any sort of soda, not just the cola flavors (justified because the Coca-Cola Company's headquarters is located in Atlanta, GA.).
"What kind of coke you got?"
"Orange, grape, coca cola, pepsi, root beer."
- Corn Flakes: Used to be a trademark of the Kellogg corporation.
- Crayola (crayons), and Cray-Pas (oil pastels)
- Crock-Pot (slow cookers)
- Cup Noodles (Noodles packaged in a disposable cup): trademark of Nissin. Also known as Maruchan, because the brand is much more prominent than the product name on the packaging.
- DayGlo (daylight fluorescent pigments)
- Demerol (Meperadine opioid pain relievers)
- Known as Pethidine in the UK: many paramedics, nurses, and midwives (who often use it as its the safest opioid for childbirth pain) would be surprised to learn that's not the generic name.
- Dendy (Bootleg NES clones)
- Discman/Walkman (portable CD/cassette players)
- Disk On Key (USB flash drive): in Israel
- Dixie cups
- Doliprane (paracetamol, a pain reliever): in France
- Dry Ice (solid carbon dioxide): Trademarked by the Dry Ice Corporation of America in the 1920s, but no longer active
- Duck Tape or Duct Tape (water resistant tape): The latter is the more common name but still trademarked in various countries.
- Dumpster (industrial-sized garbage bins)
- The generic name lampshaded in The Simpsons:
Bart: You're living in a dumpster?
Otto: Ho, man, I wish. Dumpster brand trash bins are top-of-the-line. This is just a Trash-Co waste disposal unit.
- Edding (permanent marker, in Germany)
- Elastoplast (adhesive bandages or "plasters"): in the UK
- Escalator (moving staircases)
- To the point that it can no longer be trademarked and hasn't been for quite some time.
- Esky (portable insulated ice chests)
- Expo (dry-erase markers)
- Fanta (orange flavored soft drink): in Germany
- For any kind of soft drink, in Ghana. Coke, Pepsi, Sprite, it's all "Fanta" in Ghana.
- Frigidaire: Used in the early 20th century in the US, and to an extent in the Philippines, to refer to refrigerators. Also gave rise to the slang term "fridge".
- Frisbee (flying disks)
- Lampshaded/parodied in an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants:
Spongebob: Hey, look what I've got! Small plastic disc that you throw!
Patrick: Oh boy! I love playing small plastic disc that you throw! If only it had a simpler name..
- Played straight in the episode "Ripped Pants", where the word Frisbee is explicitly used.
- And of course, in The Simpsons:
Jimbo: Hey, look what I found! A novelty flying disk!
Bart: Hey, that's our novelty flying disk!
- Also got a reference in Back to the Future part 3, but more in the style of It Will Never Catch On.
- This actually caused the character Mrs. Frisby to have her name changed to Mrs. Brisby in The Secret Of NIMH.
- Fiberglass (fiber-reinforced plastic): Though the registered trademark is FIBERGLAS, held by Owens-Corning.
G - M
N - T
- Natel: Handy (mobile phones) in Switzerland; the former is based on the term Nationales Auto-Telefon - national phone network for cars.
- Nescafe: In some countries—particularly the Middle East—for instant coffee.
- Nintendo (console video games): For example, "go play some Nintendo".
- This one has shifted around a lot. Back when the Atari 2600 was the king of the hill, "Atari" was used as a generic term for video games. "Nintendo" replaced it during the NES era and persisted for the most part through the 16-bit era. After that, Nintendo started to decline and "PlayStation" gained some currency as a generic term. Since then, however, all of these generics seem to have largely fallen out of use, probably due to the relatively even footing of the current post-PlayStation 2 era.
- Similarly, "Dendy" in Russia; it's the name of a NES clone from the early 1990s.
- O'boy (chocolate milk): in Sweden, from the biggest brand of chocolate milk instant powder, though the use of the word varies somewhat. Some Swedes call everything chocolate milk related "O'boy", regardless of whether it's hot or cold or how it's made, while others make the distinction between O'boy (cold chocolate milk made by mixing milk and any brand of instant powder together) and hot chocolate (a hot drink, typically made with real cocoa powder and sugar).
- Similarly, Ovaltine in the U.S., though not as much these days.
- Onesie (bodysuit that snaps at the crotch, typically worn by babies): Trademarked by Gerber.
- Although that one's a bit less than legit. The term "onesie" existed before the Gerber company was founded and referred to one-piece long underwear.
- Oreo (chocolate sandwich cookies)
- Nabisco attempts to stave this off even today: every time they print the word, it is in a certain font that looks like the Oreo logo. Yes, even fine print has this strange font.
- Pacer (mechanical pencil)
- Palm Pilot for pocket-sized digital organizers. Interesting for a couple of reasons: Palm was actually the manufacturer and Pilot was the model, but it's always treated like a compound word ("palm-pilot"); and said model was discontinued years before the term went out of style.
- Pampers (disposable diapers): in Puerto Rico, parts of the United States, the Caribbean, Poland, the Netherlands, and Ukraine.
- Panadol (paracetamol, a painkiller): in Australia and New Zealand, also not uncommon in the UK.
- PC (Personal Computer) (desktop computers): inverted and then played straight when IBM pre-empted the phrase as the official, but untrademarked, brand name of its first home computer, only for other brands to produce compatible clones of its architecture which, to this day, are known as "PCs" (as opposed to Macintosh computers or, more recently, tablets), although the terms "PC clone" and "IBM clone" were also used. Nowadays, it inverts the trope because people refer to Windows computers specifically as "PC's", in contrast with other operating systems (which are properly considered to be "personal computers") expecially Apple Macs.
- Pelephone (mobile phones): in Israel, from the first company to provide them there.
- Pepto-Bismol (liquid-suspension bismuth subsalicylate – gut medicine, basically – almost always pink)
- Photoshop (digital photographic manipulation software): Not only for software, but by extension the verb "Photoshopping" and the abbreviation "'shop"/"'shopping" for the act of digital photographic manipulation. Adobe has expressed its distaste for the use of the name in this way.
- Pickleball (a mini-tennis game played with wooden paddles and plastic balls, named after the inventor's dog)
- Ping Pong (table tennis)
- Placoplatre or Placo (drywall): in France
- Plamodel (Plastic Model) (model kits): Used in Japan; a trademark of Bandai Japan, famously for Gundam model kits (AKA: "Gunpla") but also many others.
- Play-Doh (children's modelling compound)
- Plexiglas (acrylic glass alternative)
- Polaroid (instant photographs): Not made by the Polaroid Corporation anymore, probably because the invention of digital cameras has made the concept completely obsolete.
- Polartec (synthetic wool for outdoorsmen)
- Polylux (overhead projector): in the former GDR
- Pop Tarts (toaster pastries)
- Popsicle (ice pop): in the USA.
- Port-a-Potty (portable toilet), in the USA
- Post-It Notes (self-sticking removable notes)
- Pot Noodle (instant noodle snack food): in the UK.
- PowerPoint, to some extent, for slide show applications.
- Prozac (fluoxetine-based anti-depressants)
- Purell (anti-bacterial soap)
- Putt-Putt golf (miniature golf)
- Q-Tips (cotton swabs): in the US.
- Rapid Refund (refund anticipation loan, or RAL): a trademark of H&R Block.
- Realtor (real estate agent): A trademarked term for members of the National Association of Realtors in the US, dating back to 1948. Attempts to challenge the trademark on the grounds that "realtor" is a generic word have been rejected by the courts.
- Refrigerator (electric ice boxes): "Refrigerator" was declared a household word long ago, and for a while, "Frigidaire" looked like it was headed in the same direction.
- Ritalin (methylphenidate, a stimulant)
- Rollerblade (in-line roller skates)
- Rolodex (circular address books)
- Rotring in grade schools seems to be synonymous with 'mechanical pencil'. Any other kind of rotring product will trigger aggressive arguments and the person owning it is likely to be on the receiving end.
- Rover: any bicycle in Poland is a rower
- Saltine crackers, which are more generically called soda crackers.
- Saran Wrap / Glad Wrap (see 'cellophane' above)
- Scantron sheets: (US) The fill-in bubble sheets used for standardized tests.
- Scotch tape (clear adhesive tape): Used in the USA and Russia; just "Scotch" in France.
- Sellotape (clear adhesive tape): Used in the UK.
- In Korea and Japan, mechanical pencils are commonly known as "Sharp pencils." Not because they have keen tips, but because they were popularized there by the Sharp company, now known for making electronics.
- Sharpie (permanent marker)
- And an even older brand, Magic Marker — in North America and Japan, interestingly enough.
- Sheetrock (drywall)
- Sherrin (Australian Rules Football ball), though this is a very rare term. Sherrin is still definitely the dominant AFL ball producer, though.
- Skidoo (snowmobile)
- Seadoo (personal watercraft), to an even larger extent.
- Slurpee (a semi-frozen drink, usually purchased from a gas station or convenience store): trademarked by 7-Eleven.
- ICEE is another trademark used for a frozen drink that is widely genericized.
- Same with Slush Puppy.
- Solex / Velosolex (motorcycle): Averted: the story is that they came up with the word "Bromfiets" (moped in Dutch) to avoid brand-name takeover when it was about to happen and the term stuck.
- Solo (tailgating/kegger cups)
- SPAM (tinned luncheon meat). We of course have Monty Python's Flying Circus to blame for this one becoming a common noun/verb/adjective. Hormel (who own the trademark) are fine with it as long as a distinction is drawn between SPAM (upper case; their product) and spam (sentence case; unwanted advertising), and that visual images of their logo, product etc. are not used for the "spam" meaning.
- Spandex (stretchable synthetic cloth)
- Speedo (swim briefs)
- Splenda (low-calorie sugar substitute)
- Sprite (lemon-lime soda pop that's clear in color and caffeine-free)
- Mountain Dew (lemon-lime soda pop that's green in color and contains caffeine): Store brands tend to have both versions.
- 7-Up was the previous generic lemon-lime. Sierra Mist is likely to avert this.
- Squezy (dishwashing liquid): In Trinidad and Tobago.
- Stubbies (men's shorts): In Australia and New Zealand; a brand of Edward Fletcher and Co.
- Styrofoam (extruded polystyrene insulating foam)
- Styrox in Finland
- In other countries, it includes such names as Spherovite, Isopor and Styropor.
- Superglue (cyanoacrylate glue): Used in the UK and Russia. Notably that in Russia it was formerly known as "Japanese Superglue".
- Cyanoarcrylate glue actually has two genericized names in the US; it's equally common to hear it referred to as Super Glue and Krazy Glue.
- Superglu in France.
- Tannoy (public address system): in the UK.
- Tarmac (asphalt road covering)
- Taser (electroshock weapons): Also appropriated as the verb "to tase". The company is quite desperate in trying to prevent genericization, which is why the will never allow the word "Taser" to be used as a verb (that's how Xerox lost their trademark) in approved media.
- Tayto (potato chips / crisps): An Irish brand.
- Technicolor (color film process)
- Tesafilm (clear adhesive tape): in Germany.
- Thermos (temperature-regulating vacuum flasks)
- Top Ramen (instant noodles)
- Touch-Tone ("dual-tone multi-frequency signaling"): Now that rotary-dial phones are deader than dodos, this term has fallen out of use.
- Trampoline (rebound tumbler)
- Transformers (toys that transform between robots and vehicles or other things)
- Trojan (condom)
- TiVo (digital video recorder): Used as the verb for "to record a program on a digital video recorder".
- Sky Plus is the equivalent in the UK, though because Sky Plus comes integrated in the Sky satellite service, you'll sometimes hear about people trying to buy a 'Sky Plus' box for their Freeview.
- In Australia it's referred to as IQ, from the Foxtel IQ pay-tv recording system which introduced digital recording and pausing/reversing live-tv several years before Freeview, DVRs or TiVo came into the Australian market, at least on a mass-consumer level.
- Trak-Ball: An inversion. Atari coined this spelling for the trackballs used in some of their arcade games (e.g., Centipede, Missle Command, etc.), but trackballs had existed prior to ones Atari made.
- Tupperware (plastic storage tubs)
- Tylenol: see Panadol
- Tyvek (flash-spun polyethylene fiber): Developed by Dupont.
U - Z
- Ugg boots are a weird inversion — an Australian company sued for trademark infringement countersuing to overturn the Ugg trademark, on the grounds that "ugg boot" was a generic term long before it was a trademark. The trademark was declared invalid in Australia, but not in the US.
- Under Armour seems to be headed this way for performance doubleknits.
- In Australia Skins is the prefered term (also a brand).
- V-Cinema (Direct-to-Video releases of films/episodes): A trademark of Toei Company. In the US, this is the term for Japanese DTV releases in the States.
- Vaseline (petroleum jelly)
- Velcro (hook-and-loop fasteners)
- Viagra (sildenafil): Trademarked by Pfizer.
- Victrola (phonograph): A trademark of the Victor Talking Machine Company (later absorbed into RCA Victor). Something of a generic term for a phonograph record player in the early 20th century, but this use faded over time, and now people just call them "turntables" or "record players". (That is, when they're not asking, "What Are Records?")
- Visqueen (plastic sheeting)
- Vinyl: originally refering to Polyvinyl chloride (a.k.a. PVC), it now refers to vinyl records (a.k.a. gramophone or phonograph records), predominantely made of PVC after the 1950s.
- Walkman (portable cassette player): A Sony trademark. Mostly phased out by both CD players and mp3 players, though with the iPod Brand Name Takeover and the fact that Sony still uses the term Walkman for their portable music players, it's possible to say that you have an iPod that's a Walkman.
- Wikipedia (aka The Other Wiki) (wiki): A registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation. Frequently used as a verb.
- Windex (glass and mirror cleaning spray)
- Winnebago (Class A recreational vehicle)
- Wite Out (correction fluid)
- Called "Twink" in New Zealand.
- And "Tipp-Ex" in the UK, France, the Netherlands, and Sweden.
- And "Liquid Paper" in Australia.
- X-Acto knife (utility knife)
- Known as a Stanley knife (also a genericised trademark) in Australia, New Zealand and the UK.
- Xerox (photocopying machines)
- Yo-yo (spinning toy on string)
- "Yo-yo" lost its trademark protection long ago, but "Duncan" is still protected.
- Is apparently still protected in Canada. Nintendo changed "Yo-yo" to "Star" in its Virtual Console rerelease of StarTropics for this reason (yet the yo-yo remains unaltered in Kirby Super Star Ultra)
- Zamboni (ice resurfacing machines) This got so far that when American Speedskater KC Boutiette saw a Dutch "natural" ice-rink use tractors to resurface their ice he called them Zambonis.
- This is parodied in Plants vs. Zombies. There is an enemy called a "Zomboni". The Flavor Text for the enemy is "Zamboni is a trademark Frank J. Zamboni & Company. Used with permission." This is simultaneously both whimsical and serious, as "Zamboni" is a trademark of Frank J. Zamboni & Company.
- Ziploc Bags (disposable, resealable zippered storage bags)
- Zipper (interlocking fasteners): Originally a trademark for a brand of rubber overshoes made by B.F. Goodrich, one of the first widely-sold products using zippers as fasteners. The name transferred to the fasteners.
- Zippo (refillable windproof cigarette lighters)