How a Brand Name Becomes Generic

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When you need to blow your nose, there’s a good chance you ask for a Kleenex, even if the box being handed to you doesn’t bear the Kimberly-Clark-owned Kleenex logo. When you use a brand name as a generic term, you’re using a proprietary eponym, or, more simply, a generic trademark. You’re probably familiar with this phenomenon, but there are more examples of it than you might realize.

You may be aware of Kleenex, Velcro and ChapStick, but what about escalator? Or dumpster? Linoleum, zipper, trampoline? All of these are (or were) trademarks of companies whose products were so successful that they came to represent an entire category. And it can actually cause quite a problem for those companies.

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