Trade Marks, Like Diamonds, Are Forever…

Trade Marks, Like Diamonds, Are Forever…

What do trade marks and diamonds have in common? They can both last forever, if they are not misused…If a trade mark is too successful, and becomes associated in the minds of consumers as the generic name of a product or service, that trade mark will lose its ability to distinguish that product or service. If this happens, the trade mark will be considered to have committed “genericide”. Examples of generic trade marks are as follows: aspirin, cellophane, laundromat, dry ice, thermos, escalator, trampoline.

What can companies do to avoid their trade marks committing genericide? The following provides some general guidelines:

  1. Advertise extensively emphasising that the trade mark is a brand name and not a generic term;
  2. Take action whenever they notice their trade mark being used generically, by sending a strongly-worded letter to the perpetrator;
  3. Use the “TM” symbol next to their trade mark and/or the “r” in a circle symbol (if the mark is registered);
  4. Educate staff on correct usage of the trade mark;
  5. Make sure their own advertising/marketing materials use the mark in its correct form, and never as an adjective (“Googling”, anyone??).

So…a trade mark is a monopoly right which can be permanent…provided that the mark in question is used in a trade mark sense. If only they were shiny too…

Any questions about generic trade marks? Contact us for a free initial consultation at

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