How are trademarks affected by the “generic name” characteristic?
A generic name, in trademark-related terms, is a word that to the majority of the public has become synonymous with a particular class of product or service. A generic word, therefore, cannot be registered as a mark, and even of more concern, an already registered mark can lose its protection if it becomes a generic name. A registered mark can cross over into the “generic name” territory if the products or services it is associated with become overwhelmingly dominant in the common marketplace. For example, zipper is one of the classic cases of a previously registered trademark becoming a genericized trademark.
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Dr. Thomas R. (Terry) Williamson III is a Patent Attorney practicing in Atlanta, Georgia.
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