Discovered any trademarked word in your lingo?A�
Mark my words
It was another dry day at the Chemistry class. When I was busy waging a losing battle against the sleep gods, the term a�?Dry Icea�� was splashed upon me like a bucket of freezing cold water. I can still recollect the newness of the coinage jolting me out of my reverie.
Before I could muster the courage to ask how ice can be dry, my teacher informed me that Solid Carbon Dioxide when heated turns into gas instead of melting. Thata��s why ita��s never wet. Recently, I came to know that Dry Ice was trademarked in America in 1925. So it was a brand name all along and not a term that sprouted from a text book!
Actually, if one cares to dig deeper one can discover many such trademarks that are part of our everyday lexicon. Heroin, the illegal substance that figures in many B-grade crime movies, is technically Morphine Diacetate but it was given the H-moniker and was trademarked by Bayer & Co in 1898.
Kerosene, the fuel that gives the ration shop its distinct odour, was christened by Abraham Gesner from keroselaion (Greek for a�?wax-oil) and was registered in 1854 as a wordmark.
Even a�?Escalatora�� was trademarked in 1900 by Charles Seeberger who later worked for the Otis Elevator Company. But in precisely 50 years, it lost its legal protection when a court declared that an escalator is a generic moving stairway and cannot be called a brand name as it had become ubiquitous.
Many category-creator brands face such a risk. Marketers call this phenomenon a�?genericidea��. Thata��s the reason why Xerox is very particular that you call the act of document duplication as a�?photocopyinga�� and not a�?Xeroxinga��. And Adobe is insisting that you should never use a�?photoshopa��, a�?photoshoppinga�� or a�?photoshoppera�� in any written form of communication a�� including this article!
But in many cases, the damage has already been done. No one knows that Bubble Wrap is a trade name from Sealed Air Corporation. No one cares whether Wham-O Incorporated has the rights to a�?Frisbeea�� because to the Average Joe, a flying disc is a Frisbee. By the way, Wham-O also owns Hula-Hoop!
Likewise Laundromat (a
property of Westinghouse Electric), Videotape (originally belonged to Ampex), Trampoline (Griswold-Nissena��s), Dictaphone (Nuance Communicationa��s), and Fiberglass (Owens Corninga��s) have all suffered the same fate. But as our legend Ravi Shastri would famously say, a�?In the end, English was the winner.a�?