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Are Anti-Genericism Ads Effective?


An anti-genericism ad from this month’s ABA Journal:

“If you use ‘Xerox’ the way you use ‘zipper,’ our trademark could be left wide open. There’s a new way to look at it.

“No one likes to leave their name open to misuse. Which is what happens when you use our name in a generic manner. Basically you’re putting it in a compromising position which could cause it to lose its trademark status. That’s what happened to the name ‘zipper’ years ago. So when you use our name, please use it as an adjective to identify our products and services, such as ‘Xerox copiers.’ Never as a verb: ‘to Xerox’ in place of ‘to copy,’ or as a noun: ‘Xeroxes’ in place of ‘copies.’ Now that you’re aware of all this, that should just about zip things up. Thanks.”

These anti-genericism ads fascinate me. If they’re actually effective, why don’t we see more of them? And why are they run on page 27 of publications like the ABA Journal? On the other hand, if they’re not effective, why do owners of famous marks bother running them at all?

Posted on October 25, 2007 by Registered CommenterMichael Atkins in | Comments3 Comments

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Reader Comments (3)

Perhaps it is really just another "arrow in the quiver" if Xerox gets hauled into a cancellation proceeding for the mark being generic.

They can say, "We've spent millions of dollars over the last 20 years advertising the proper use of our mark. How can it possibly be generic?"

I don't think Xerox cares one way or another if people actually read the ad. They just have enough money in the corporate coffers to spend (or waste) on this "arrow".

Google doesn't seem to feel the same way. They have done very little to stop people from saying things like "Google 'trademark blogs' and see what you find!"

October 26, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAJT
I hadn't seen a XEROX ad in some time and wondered if they'd stopped their famous campaign. I must say the choice of the ABA Journal does seem a bit odd, though perhaps the ads were also placed in other professional journals whose readerships tend to command their gophers to "xerox this."

The ads I've recently found most intriguing in this context are the ones from the French Champagne industry claiming that "if it's not from Champagne, it's not true Champagne." Obviously, the French are trying to retrieve "champagne" from its generic status in America. I've encountered these efforts in somewhat more fashion-oriented publications than the Journal, although ABA members might be a suitable universe for a TEFLON survey on the meaning of "champagne."
October 27, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRich
You may enjoy this. Trademark humor.

<a href="http://randazza.wordpress.com/2007/07/24/top-ten-ways-to-stop-genericidists-they-who-commit-acts-of-genericide-upon-trademarks/">Top Ten Ways to Stop Genericidists (They who commit Acts of Genericide upon Trademarks)</a>
November 14, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMarc J. Randazza

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