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The genericizing of a proper name, brand name, or trademark into a common term to the point that the namebrand is thougt of as the *product* not as the 'name'.
(yes i realize many of these are somewhat regional/us-based but i am sure this phenomenon exists elsewhere as well. add them, or /msg me for additions)

for example:
-xerox = photocopy
-coke = any soda (limited, somewhat, to the south regions of the U.S.)
-sharpie = permanent marker
-kleenex = nose tissue
-scotch tape = clear tape for wrapping packages, hanging things, etc.
-saran wrap = clingy clear cellophane wrap
-hoover = vaccum cleaner
-dustbuster = handheld vaccum thingamajigger


it has been mentioned that copyright misnomer is in fact "a misnomer itself" as these are *trademark* issues and not copyright ones. However, as "copyright misnomer" is the phrase i have heard used to describe this phenomenon it is what i chose to node it under.

Interestingly, if the natural process of a product name becoming a part of the english language that wuukiee mentions above goes far enough, the company being misnomer'd can actually lose the copyright/trademark in question once the government becomes satisfied that the trademarked name has become a word.


(I believe this at one time happened to the Otis Elevator company over the word "Elevator"; however, i was unable to find confirmation of this, and Elevator may have never been legitimately trademarked in the first place. However, while looking for confirmation i did find the page http://www.roundsmiller.com/stealin'.htm , which has some rather interesting discussion on the subject. Search for the "WHY TRADEMARKS ARE VALUABLE?" section.)

According to that page, trademarks that have been invalidated because they became part of the vernacular include Escalator (The Otis Elevator company), Linoleum (Congoleum-Nairum), and Asprin (The Bayer Company). As a result any competing company can now sell products under those three names, and the original name owners have no valid claim whatsoever against this.

One striking (and well-documented) case of this sort of trademark dillution is the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

Noah Webster started the original Webster's dictionary. His heirs later teamed up with publisher G. & C. Merriam Company to produce the first Merriam-Webster dictionary in 1847.

Unscrupulous publishers rode on the success of Webster's dictionary and began publishing their own "Webster's" dictionaries, sometimes simply copying the original and republishing it without license. Despite legal actions on the part of G. & C. Merriam Company (later renamed to Merriam-Webster Inc.) the name fell into common use. To this day, there are still many dictionaries published as "Webster's" but have no connection to the orginal.

Read the story here: http://www.m-w.com/about/webster.htm

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