How do you protect Generic Trade Marks?
If your product brand name is so entrenched in the public’s mind it becomes a descriptor of the product, how do you protect that trade mark?
Words like Xerox, Slushie, Esky and Doona all evoke instant images of the products they are associated with but in today’s commercial world, brands are having to find new and creative ways to protect their mark against being Genericized.
Genericism occurs when a trade mark becomes the generic word for the product or service. Think: Kleenex instead of Kleenex tissue, Esky instead of Esky cooler and Google instead of Google search.
It’s a fact that some brands can get a bit touchy when you say their trade marks are generic.
In effect the brand becomes a victim of its own success. Take Velcro for example, or if you represent Velcro, they would prefer you call the product hook and loop.
Velcro have launched an awareness campaign using humour in a song to pitch the message- when you use our trademark VELCRO® as a noun you diminish the importance of it. We’re counting on you to call it by its name. Hook and Loop.
The Velcro campaign uses humour to make its point and in many ways humour is the only way a brand could address these issues whilst still saving face.
The mallet approach is not always the best approach. There’s a well known case involving Maltesers. Sweet Rewards were found to be not passing off the Maltesers get up because Malteser were so famous no-one would confuse a knock off with the real thing. Maltesers were a victim of their own success.
Velcro’s light hearted but serious message in their brand awareness strategy deserves commendation.
We have all seen the examples of brands going over the top with threatening legal letters, and some of us are entertained by the cheeky responses. But sending the letters doesn’t achieve the aim, it just alienates… so this approach is refreshing.
A brand owner can approach the issue in a manner which leaves a brand well respected but still teaches consumers to use the brand name as a brand.
We have all seen negative brand impacts when a cease and desist (and a cheeky response) goes viral. But Velcro have shown how a brand owner can teach consumers, in a positive way, how it wants the brand referenced. The point is well made and it shows Velcro has a great sense of humour’.
So the serious message behind the smiles is - Protect your brand. Bad karma sticks like Vel... hook and loop.
Link to Velcro campaign video: