27 Trademarked Names That Have Become Commonly Used Terms
Sometimes a trademarked name is just the best way to describe a product. Here are some product names that are or were trademarked
Sheetrock and drywall get used pretty interchangeably, but it’s important to note Sheetrock is a trademarked name owned by the United States Gypsum Corporation. Make sure you know both terms for the next job and make sure you do the job right by avoiding these common drywall mistakes.
Bubble Wrap ®
Bubble Wrap® started in 1957 and its inventors intended to use it as wallpaper. The name, however, is trademarked and is also referred to as cushioning or packing material. Bubble Wrap® remains one of the most versatile products out there and its uses will surprise you.
Velcro is one of those products where trying to describe it in other terms doesn’t work easily even though it’s trademarked. A rose by another name, right? The trademark owner, Velcro Industries BV, asks that its products be called Velcro hook and loop fasteners or Velcro fabric fastening products. Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.
Styrofoam is a trademarked name owned by The Dow Chemical Company after it discovered a way to make foamed polystyrene in 1947. These days Styrofoam products can be found almost everywhere, like with foundation insulation panels.
Dumpster, believe it or not, used to be trademarked term that dates back to 1936 when the Dempster Brothers developed a system of loading garbage containers onto garbage trucks. They called it a Dumpster as way to blend the name of the company and the front-end loading device for dumping garbage.
See how to get rid of anything that you think would be troublesome.
Jacuzzi is actually a corporation that manufactures whirlpool bathtubs and hot tubs. The company has held the trademark since it registered it back in 1978. Jacuzzi Brands has roots in the aircraft industry. In the 1920s the company built airplane propellers, which likely helped with the design of the jets found in Jacuzzi whirlpool baths. Know what goes great with a Jacuzzi spa? An outdoor fire pit.
Super Glue is a cyanoacrylate adhesive, which you’ve probably seen a time or two on our site. Unless you’re a chemist, it’s not a term that is on the front of your mind when you’re looking for a super strong adhesive in the hardware store. “Super Glue” is now generic but Super Glue Corporation/Pacer Technology holds the trademark to “The Original Super Glue” and you can bet they plan to make sure it sticks there like its product. Should you find yourself stuck to some cyanoacrylate adhesive, we can get you out of it quicker than you can say cyanoacrylate adhesive properly.
Linoleum is an interesting name in the trademark world. It never actually got trademarked by its inventor Frederick Walton when he began the Linoleum Manufacturing Company Ltd in 1864. He tried a decade later as competitors hit the market but couldn’t do it since the term became generalized by that time.
Weed eater, Weedwacker, Weed Wacker
The generic term we use, and several others, is string trimmer. Doesn’t exactly fit the bill. Who needs to trim string around the house? But the generic term for the device better known as a Weedwacker, Weed Eater or Weed Wacker seems the best we can do since so many related names are trademarked. Husqvarna holds the Weed Eater trademark. Stanley Black & Decker holds the Weedwacker trademark, which might seem like an asset for the company right now. Weed Wacker, note the space, is owned by Environmental Essentials, LLC. The trademark details on Justia.com says Weed Wacker is to be used for odor neutralizing purposes on various surfaces. Kind of muddies the waters a little more.
Johnson & Johnson owns the trademark to the name kids have cried out for since it was created in 1920. Johnson & Johnson continues to fight that the term hasn’t become generic because once it does, the company will no longer control the trademark for the adhesive bandage. Just never flush one down the toilet.
The X-Acto knife is better known as a utility knife around here, though people continue to use X-Acto knife as a generic term. It, however, is a trademark term that is owned by Elmer’s Products, Inc. Yes, the glue people own the X-Acto trademark, which is often used to undo the work of glue. Kind of a symbiotic relationship in a way. What’s more interesting about the X-Acto knife is that it was intended to be used as a scalpel but it couldn’t be cleaned, thus it became a hobby kit tool.
See other things around the house get repurposed in creative ways, like a trash can turning into an amplifier.
Teflon is known for its ability to prevent things from sticking to pans. Teflon is a trademark term owned by the Chemours Company, which used to be part of DuPont. Teflon became a registered trademark in 1945. Teflon’s use has expanded to several areas, including plumbing. Find out how Teflon is used in plumbing.
Cellophane, that piece of plastic that prevents you from inhaling Girl Scout cookies, began as a trademark name, besides being a general hindrance to enjoy deliciousness immediately. The history of its use in candy packaging dates back to 1912 when Whitman’s candy company started using it. Cellophane is just not great as a plumbing repair.
Abraham Gesner trademarked Kerosene in 1854 but it became a generic term over the years. Gesner heated coal and distilled a clear liquid from it that he named Kerosene. For a number of years only the North American Gas Light Company and the Downer Company were allowed to call their lamp oil Kerosene. Kerosene remains pretty useful whether heating a garage or blowing up a tree stump.
Trampoline held a trademark before becoming a generic term, though it’s not clear when either happened. What is known is that the trampoline was created in 1936 by George Nissen and Larry Griswold. The name comes from the Spanish word for diving board, “trampolin” and was referred to as a rebound tumbler in generic terms. Trampolines are great for gymnastics and have been used for a variety of training exercises like with astronauts but they can be a backyard nuisance. Avoid injuries with this clever pool noodle hack.
When something as successful as the zipper gets invented it’s hard to prevent it from becoming a generic term. Zipper became a trademark name back in 1925 but by 1930 B.F. Goodrich and inventor Gideon Sundback could no longer claim a trademark on zipper since its prevalence had become ubiquitous.
An early name for a chain-link fence used to be a Cyclone fence. The Cyclone Fence Company held a trademark for the type of fencing beginning in 1925. The trademark expired only in 2006.
Chain-link fences are pretty homely but check out some prettier fence options for the backyard here.
Kawasaki owns the trademark to Jet Ski but it’s hard to say who has used the generic stand-up personal watercraft outside of a law office.
Mace hasn’t entirely replaced the generic term pepper spray but it is the trademark name of the product made by Mace Security International.
Lycra is a trademark of INVISTA, which is owned by Koch Industries. Lycra gets used just as much as the generic term, spandex, since Lycra is spandex fiber.
Taser is actually a trademark for a stun gun and Taser International would like people to avoid using the word because it means it could lose the trademark on it.
Wire-Nut is a trademark of IDEAL Industries Inc for a product that’s generally referred to as an electrical connector or twist-on wire connectors. IDEAL filed for the trademark back in 1959.
Locking pliers, known as a Vise-Grip, were invented by William Petersen in Nebraska back in 1924. Eventually Petersen formed Petersen Manufacturing, which registered the trademark. Petersen Manufacturing later became American Tool Companies and bought IRWIN Tool Company. Newell Brands bought American Tool in 2002 and changed the name to IRWIN Industrial Tool Company. In 2008, the original Vise-Grip plant in DeWitt, Nebraska closed. More than 330 people in the town of 572 lost their jobs when the parent company moved production to China. The town received good news last year when Malco Products, a company that specializes in making tools to construct HVAC systems planned on hiring 20 people to work in the former plant.
Spackle is a trademark term for the surfacing compound used to fill holes. Though few people likely say surfacing compound when they need to fill a hole in drywall. Spackle has been around since 1927.
Shop-Vac is the trademark name for a vacuum you can use in your shop. The Shop-Vac Corporation owns the trademark though many people refer to their shop vacuum as a “shop-vac” without thinking twice about it.
The story of the brand Kitty Litter is a fascinating one, that begins with Ed Lowe selling clay to a friend for her cat box. Kitty Litter became a generic term eventually despite Lee fighting for the trademark. By the time Lowe died, the company he started was worth $500 million.
Keep your cat entertained with one of these incredible cat furniture pieces.