Wiki Headlines
We've switched servers and will be updating the old code over the next couple months, meaning that several things might break. Please report issues here.

main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Brand Name Takeover
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 name.

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".
  • "Adrenalin" is a trademarked term, although "adrenaline" is not; still, many scientists and medical professionals, especially in the U.S., prefer the term "epinephrine" for this reason.
  • Adidas (shoes): all running shoes, in Poland and Romania.
  • Advil (ibuprofen): a painkiller.
  • 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 .
  • Allen key (hex key): L-shaped, handleless screwdriver with a hexagonal cross-section.
  • Ant Farm (a formicarium): Became the topic of this 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)
  • Budweiser or "Bud" the signature brand of the Anheuser-Busch brewing company is used in place of "beer" in several places in America and can be used as a generic term for "American Beer" in Canada, similar to the Coke example below.
  • 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
  • CD or Compact Disc is technically a trademark of Koninklijke Philips N.V., however it came to refer to any digital optical data disc when the medium reached its peak in the mid 90's.
  • 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.
    • Glad Wrap in Australia after the brand.
  • Central Casting was formed in 1925 by a coalition of Hollywood studios to provide a reliable source of background actors for productions (in exchange, CC provided a reliable source of jobs for said actors). They later expanded to provide actors with a certain "look" or skill set, and today the phrase "straight out of central casting" refers to someone with an appropriately stereotypical appearance (a lumberjack with a full beard and wearing a flannel shirt and blue jeans, for example).
  • Cheezies (cheese curl) in Canada.
    • In the U.S., any form of cheese-flvored snacks will more often than not be called "Cheetos"note .
  • 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)
  • Chex mix (snack mix): Chex is a trademark of General Mills, but some generic snack mixes use chex like cereal pieces.
  • 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).
  • Chipsy: For potato chips in Egypt. Chipsy is the biggest potato chip brand in Egypt; it was bought out by Lay's in the mid-2000s and serves as the local Lay's brand name.
  • 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).
    "What kind of coke you got?"
    "Orange, grape, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, root beer."
    • In order to distinguish it from the generic "coke", the South has since developed the colloquialism "co-cola" when you're specifically talking about Coca-Cola.
  • "Confort" is used to refer to any kind of toilet paper in Chile after a popular brand (Must be the jingle).
    • In a similar vein, every paper towel is referred as "Nova"
  • 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)
    • In Chile, every Nes clone is known as Poly Station after the most popular "brand", despite existing many other versions with names and likenesses based on whatever desktop console.
  • Discman/Walkman (portable CD/cassette players)
  • Disk On Key (USB flash drive): in Israel
    • Also, Jump Drive
  • Dixie cups
  • Doliprane (paracetamol, a pain reliever): in France
  • Drinking the Kool-Aid: Misattributed for years; Flavor-Aid was originally used.
  • 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.
  • Dustbuster or Dirt Devil (handheld vacuum cleaner)
  • 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, France, 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..
      Spongebob: I know! Small plastic disc... that you TOSS!
      • Played straight in the episode "Ripped Pants", where the word Frisbee is explicitly used.
    • And 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—the name was on a pie plate, referencing the term's origin.
    • 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 
  • Gem clips (paper clips)
  • Gilette (razor blade): in Brazil
  • "The Good Humor Man" (ice cream vendors, especially those who drive ice cream trucks): The Good Humor company (makers of "popsicles", mentioned later in this page) first popularized ice cream trucks in the U.S.. As a result, ice cream vendors were sometimes referred to by this name, although "ice cream man" is used more often these days.
  • Google (search engines)
    • More commonly used as a verb meaning to use a search engine.
    • It is worth noting, however, that many companies (Yahoo, etc) use the Google engine for their search purposes.
    • Fun fact: The major German dictionary Duden had to change the meaning of the verb google from "searching the web" to "searching the web with Google" in the next edition, actual usage be damned.
    • The word "googling" (regardless of case) is red-underlined as a misspelled word in Google Chrome's built-in spell check, as is "google" with a lowercase "g".
    • It is worth noting that "Google" has largely replaced an earlier case of this; "grep", from the UNIX command line search utilitynote , was popular for a while among hackers as an alternative to the word "search".
  • Green Stuff (A binary putty used primarily in wargaming and model building.)
  • Hacky Sack (footbag)
  • Some people will refer to any kind of electric organ as a "Hammond".
  • Handy, the German word for mobile/cell phone (Yes, seriously), is rumoured to have its roots in a very early cell phone model by Motorola which was called "Handy".
    • Similar is the Motorola trademark Handie-Talkie (1951) for their brand of handheld transceiver became the generic ham radio term "HT" meaning any handheld transceiver.
  • Heroin "the sedative for coughs" (Diamorphine - another ex-Bayer trademark)
  • Hodgkins (stapler): In Japan, they sold the first stapler. Now all staplers are called Hodgkins (Hocchikisu).
  • Hoover (vacuum cleaners), in Britain. One of the most pervasive examples of the trope in the UK as the name is a near-universal verb for "cleaning".
    • Nothing sucks like an Electrolux, used for 'vacuum' in Poland ('elektroluks') and formerly in English-speaking countries as well
  • Hot Wheels/Matchbox (toy racing cars, specifically "1:64" scale models of real cars); Both are registered to Mattel. Unless, that is, you were in the UK before Mattel acquired Matchbox in the mid-1990s, when Matchbox was far more commonly used, along with Corgi.
  • Hula Hoop (plastic hoop toy) oddly has two completely separate applications in the UK, as Hula Hoops are also the most popular variety of the snackfood known generically as "potato rings", in the potato crisps/chips market.
  • IBM (personal computer): Not ubiquitous, but quite commonly used in early 1990s Poland. Not so much today. Everyone else used "PC", which persists until today, and is an example itself.
    • Among old-time computer professionals, the IBM 360/370 architecture was so ubiquitous in the business computing world that rival companies' clones of the 360/370 were still called "IBM mainframes."
  • Sapporo Ichiban was one of the first brands of instant ramen imported into Canada, and many Canadians refer to the dish as "ichiban", regardless of the actual brand. The word itself is Japanese for "number one".
  • Igelit was originally a form of PVC, made by IG Farben. In Czech, the term is commonly used for any kind of plastic bags and wrappings, even though other materials have replaced the PVC; "igelit" bags are actually made from low-density polyethylene (LDPE).
  • Imodium (loperamide based anti-diarrheal drugs)
  • iPod (digital music player)
    • Considering how many different types of iPods there are, few people will refer to the subtypes as anything but iPods. Also, who remembers the CamelCase?
    • Less prominently, iPhone for smartphones and iPad for tablets.
  • Jacuzzi (whirlpool baths/hot tubs)
    • The Jacuzzi company also makes other bathroom fixtures, including sinks and toilets.
  • Jeep (off-road vehicles)
    • Jeep could be considered an inversion. The original jeep was a term for a category of vehicle (not brand or manufacturer specific) in World War II, although the origin of the term is disputed.
      • Also played-with in that while officially Jeep is the name of a car manufacturer owned by Chrysler (now Fiat-Chrysler) specializing in SUVs and Crossovers, and thus everything they make is a 'Jeep', colloquially in the United States, 'Jeep' only refers to civilian versions of the original World War II light utility vehicle.note 
    • In a similar vein, duck tape is a possible case; it's unclear if the stuff's name originated as "duct tape" or "duck tape", though it definitely shouldn't be used in the capacity the former suggests.
      • Small waterfowl of the family Anatidae would probably appreciate it not being used in the latter as well.
  • Jell-O (gelatin dessert)
    "Ratchet has this game on ice, ladies and gentlemen! The juice is cold, and the generic brand-x gelatin is definitely jiggling!"
    • In Australia, New Zealand and the UK, this stuff (flavoured, sweetened, wobbly set gelatine dessert) is never called jell-o. It's called jelly, which has never been trademarked under any prominent brand. Which means that anytime imported TV shows refer to "peanut butter and jelly sandwiches" etc. an odd mental image comes to mind, as the 'jelly' in that phrase is known as jam in these countries.note 
  • Jet Ski (stand up personal water craft)
  • Jockeys or Jockey shorts, men's underwear.
  • JumboTron (giant television screen found in sports stadiums)
  • Junket (sweet curdnote )
    • Taken to ridiculous measures when one of Dorothy Kunhardt's less well-known novels, Junket is Nice, was forcibly-changed to Pudding is Nice by Junket Company, despite the term dating to a medieval Norman name for a type of pudding. Not to mention the cinema and gambling usages.
  • Karma (not to be confused with the other karma) is a Czech term for a gas-powered tankless water heater. Originally a brand name, named after its manufacturer Karel Macháček.
  • Kerosene (paraffin heating oil)
  • Keso (cottage cheese): Based on a Swedish brand name. Because there is no other Swedish term for cottage cheese, the company behind Keso have started subtitling the product with "cottage cheese" written in phonetics.
  • Kleenex (facial tissue)
    • Tempo in Germany is another example.
  • Kodak (photographs): Hasn't been an issue in quite some tim, but it was in the early 20th century.
    • They were still sensitive about it at least into the '70s: any record with Paul Simon's "Kodachrome" carries the disclaimer "Kodachrome is a registered trademark for color film."
  • Kool-Aid (non-carbonated soft drinks): US and Canada
    • To the point that the cyanide-laced drinks in the Jonestown mass "suicide" is referred to as Kool-Aid (leading to the term "drinking the Kool-Aid") when the brand used was Flavor-Aid.
  • Kraft Dinner, commonly abbreviated to KD (in Canada), is any type of mac 'n cheese.
  • Laundromat (coin laundry shop): Trademarked to Westinghouse Electric Corporation.
  • Lego (or, god forbid, the unsightly incorrect plural "legos") is used to refer to any kind of small interlocking construction toys, sometimes even those with different mechanisms to actual LEGO. LEGO (and the fandom) is very insistent in their magazines that people call them "LEGO Brand Building Toys", but their generic competitors from dollar stores and brands like Mega Bloks get lumped in anyway. Some would argue, however, that LEGO does attempt to make subtle distinctions in the use of its brand name to distinguish its competitors' products. Either way, making this mistake tends to amount to the highest form of fandom heresy among LEGO circles.
    • Also, don't you dare call that Obi-Wan figurine that came with your LEGO Star Wars set a "Lego", either. It's called a "minifigure". Even your local news will come after you.
    • The Lego Group has officially answered a question from various people if it is correct to refer to multiple pieces as "Lego" or "Legos". As obvious as you may think the answer would be, they said that they are both wrong. It is correct to use "Lego" as an adjective, as in "Lego pieces" or "Lego sets".
  • Lekos ("LEE-kohs") for ellipsoidal reflector spotlights, one of the two light types which make up the bulk of theatrical lighting (Fresnel units being the other). Even textbooks on the subject have been known to use the brand name.
    • This is being displaced, with only older stagehands/electricians/lighting designers typically referring to ellipsoidals as "Lekos"; this may be due to the near-ubiquity of ETC Source Four lighting instruments in theatrical installations (and Altman instruments before that, throughout the 1980s and early 1990s).
    • These lights are also sometimes referred to as "Kliegs," making this a double example.
  • Linoleum (floor covering)
  • Livestream: Primarily as a verb, live streaming of video over the Internet. Not the first site to offer this service, but definitely the one with the most generic name.
  • Luxaflex (in the Netherlands, window blinds, specifically the horizontal ones; vertical ones are lamellen (lamellae))
  • Mack (gas stations): in Sweden. Originally a brand of petrol pumps.
    • Mack is also a common term for tractor-trailer cabs in the USA, usually in the form "Mack truck". For example, Optimus Prime is often referred to as a Mack truck despite actually being a Freightliner model.
  • Maggi (instant noodles): in the Indian subcontinent.
    • In the Netherlands, it's the salty food additive that comes in those brown bottles. Maggi sells a lot of other products as well, but when you say, "Pass the Maggi", people usually know that you mean the brown bottled stuff.
    • Same thing in Poland as in Netherlands.
    • As well as Romania.
    • Ditto Germany. Accompanied by massive overuse of the stuff in some households, to the degree that there's a joke along the lines of "the French use magie (magic) in their cooking, the Germans use Maggi", due to the similar sound of the words.
    • Maggi for instant noodles used to be this in the Philippines, but with an influx of competitors due to the popularity of the stuff as cheap staple food for the poor, this has mostly been subverted, with "instant noodles/ramen" retaking the common name.
    • It means "bouillon cubes" in most of the Arab world. Same with the African continent.
    • In Brazil, it's Miojo (the brand sold there by Nissin - the company who invented instant noodles).
  • Magic Marker (felt-tip pen)
  • Mapquest (online driving directions)
  • M&M's (button-shaped chocolate candies)
    • In Brazil, Confeti (helps that their world-famous Carnival uses lots of confetti)
    • Alternatively, Smarties (in Canada).
      • Likewise the UK.
  • Motrin or Advil (ibuprofen)
  • Multi-Ball (a mode in Pinball machines where two or three balls are in play; first coined by Williams)
  • Muzak (a music distribution system): Most often used to refer to the offensively inoffensive wishes-it-was-jazz music played over these systems rather than the system itself. (That genre of music is usually called "smooth jazz".)

    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.
  • Ouija boards: Originally called "planchettes" or "talking boards".
  • 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 Post-Soviet states.
  • Panadol (paracetamol, a painkiller): in Australia and New Zealand, also not uncommon in the UK. In Chile they are often referred as Pandol too, a term that only rivals with Tapsin.
  • 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") especially 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)
    • Plasticine in the UK
  • Plexiglas (acrylic glass alternative)
    • Perspex in the UK
  • 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.
  • Shop Vac (industrial-grade canister vacuum cleaner, sometimes with wet-or-dry capabilities)
  • 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.
  • Smart Board (digital whiteboard)
  • 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)
    • Lycra as well.
  • Speedo (swim briefs)
  • Splenda (sucralose, a 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.
  • Stihl (chainsaw): In Hungary.
  • 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): Interestingly, the term originally referred to a completely different pavement, tar-penetration macadam. The development of asphalt as a paving surface made macadam surfaces (which are very labor-intensive to build) obsolete, but the old alternate term for "pavement" carried forward.
  • Taser (electroshock weapons): Also appropriated as the verb "to tase". The company is quite desperate in trying to prevent genericization, which is why they 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, Missile 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 preferred 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), predominantly 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. Referred to in some countries, including Britain, as simply "zips".
  • Zippo (refillable windproof cigarette lighters)
  • Zodiac in France (motorized inflatable boats)

Brain FeverOlder Than RadioBriar Patching
Brand Names Are BetterAdvertising TropesBrand X
Brain UploadingWe Are Not Alone IndexBreaking the Fourth Wall

alternative title(s): Genericized Trademark; Kleenex Effect; Genericide
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy