Crock-Pot to Google: 26 Trademarks That Are Now Everyday Terms
While author Mary Shelley never bothered to name the iconic monster in her book "Frankenstein," most people refer to him -- as well as the fictional doctor who created him -- by that name. Similar mislabelling happens to all sorts of familiar objects that are better known by a brand name rather than a generic one. Here are some you probably use -- and mistakenly name -- every day.
In 1941, engineer George de Mestral was inspired by Burdock burrs attaching to his clothes to create a hook-and-loop fastener. He named his invention Velcro, which is now a trademark of Velcro Companies. However, the patent on the fastener lapsed 40 years ago, so other people can now make similar fastening devices. Still, most people just call them Velcro.
Get a scrape or cut, and you'll probably ask if anyone has a Band-Aid, yet Band-Aids are the specific adhesive bandages produced by Johnson & Johnson. Similarly, in the U.K., the bandage brand Elastoplast has since become a widely used term for adhesive bandages.
Probably one of the best known examples of a brand name that became a catch-all term is Kleenex. Kimberly-Clark has been producing their Kleenex products since the 1920s. Nowadays, there are numerous tissue products available, yet when people need to blow their nose, they frequently ask for a Kleenex.
As a kid, you probably experienced the joy of popping Bubble Wrap, which is actually a trademark of Sealed Air Corporation. Originally, engineers Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes envisioned Bubble Wrap as a kind of wallpaper, though its use for packing delicates ultimately prevailed.
Many people use the terms bleach and Clorox interchangeably, though Clorox is a trademark held by the Clorox Company. They're now a Fortune 500 company that also owns a variety of product lines including Hidden Valley, Burt's Bees, and Pine-Sol.
We commonly refer to large garbage bins as dumpsters, but Dumpster is a trademark of the Dempster Brothers, Inc. Back in 1935, it was called the Dempster-Dumpster, partially named for its inventor, George Roby Dempster, who would later go on to become the mayor of Knoxville, Tennessee for 18 years.
Coca-Cola is a hugely popular soft drink invented in 1886, which people frequently refer to it by its nickname, Coke. Southerners often use "coke" to mean any kind of soda, and may later specify which brand in particular they mean.
Comic-Con is a trademark held by San Diego Comic-Con International (SDCC), a comic book convention started in 1970. Other cities have similar conventions, but they typically pay licensing fees. In 2017, SDCC sued a con in Salt Lake City for attempting to use the name without permission.
Muzak is how many describe the unobtrusive music one hears in elevators and lobbies. However, that's not the name of the musical genre, but the name of a company founded by Major General George Owen Squier. He first called his company Wired Radio, but was later inspired to rename his company Muzak after another popular brand name: Kodak.
The Crock-Pot is Sunbeam's brand of slow cooker, but it's also become a common term used to describe any slow cooker. It was invented by Irving Naxon in the 1930s, who was inspired by a story his grandmother told about a stew she made that took several hours to cook.
Formica is a trademark of the Formica Corporation, yet many people use the term to describe any laminate countertop or flooring. Formica was invented by the Westinghouse Electric Corporation in 1912, initially as a substitute for mica, a substance often used as an electrical insulator.
Though people frequently use the term AstroTurf to refer to any sort of fake grass, the term is a trademark held by Monsanto Company. When the product was originally launched in 1965, it went by the name ChemGrass. In 1966, the product was used at the Houston Astrodome stadium, prompting an enduring name change.
Search engines like Bing, AltaVista, Yahoo, Magellan, and Lycos all used to direct us to our greatest queries. Yet as time progressed, Google became the more prominent company and we began using Google as a verb for searching online.
The JumboTron is a massive screen produced by Sony through 2001 and frequently used at large sporting or music events to allow those in the back to see the action on the field or stage. Sony no longer makes JumboTrons, but the term is still often used to describe these massive screens, even those by other made by other companies.
If someone asked you what a plastic disc you toss back and forth across a park on a sunny day is called, you'd probably say a Frisbee. However, Frisbee is a trademark of Wham-O. That brand took the name from The Frisbie Pie Company in Connecticut, whose pie tins were frequently tossed around as a leisure activity.
Mace is a brand of pepper spray, originally invented in 1965 by Allen Lee Litman. The company Mace Security International produces a number of security and safety products, but their pepper spray is obviously the best-known and most popular of the bunch.
Jacuzzi is the name of a corporation that manufactures whirlpools. Yet many people use the term Jacuzzi to refer to any hot tub or whirlpool, regardless of manufacturer, despite the fact that Jacuzzi has held the trademark since 1978.
The Sharpie is the preferred tool of bathroom graffiti artists everywhere, but not all permanent markers are Sharpies. Sharpies are specifically those felt-tipped writing utensils manufactured by the New Jersey-based Newell Brands.
When you feel like hanging out in your pajamas, you might say you're slipping into your onesie. Yet if your Netflix & Chill outfit isn't made by Gerber Products Company, it's not really a Onesie. They own that trademark, and it applies to bodysuits made for both babies and adults.
Seeing Eye is a philanthropic organization founded in the 1920s that helps raise and train service dogs, specifically to help blind people navigate the world. The term "seeing eye dog," however, is commonly used to refer to any guide dog, regardless of where the dog was trained.
The Post-it note was born after 3M scientist Dr. Spencer Silver failed at inventing a strong adhesive, and instead produced a light adhesive that would not damage surfaces. Fellow 3M scientist Art Fry later came up with the idea to use it on paper slips to create bookmarks. 3M began selling Post-it notes in 1979, and since then, many have used the brand name Post-it to describe any kind of sticky note.
Putt-Putt golf is often used to describe miniature golf, but the only actual Putt-Putt golf courses are found at the Putt-Putt Fun Centers. Now a chain, Putt-Putt Fun Center was founded in 1954 in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Putt-Putt games are considered more challenging than other mini-golf games, as courses focus less on elaborate themes and props and more on increasingly difficult holes.
Many people use the word Q-tip to refer to any cotton swab, but the Q-tip is the swab specifically invented by Leo Gerstenzang in the 1920s. He initially called his product Baby Gays, though later changed it to Q-Tips. The "q" in this instance was meant to stand for quality.
Photoshop has become the standard way to describe tools used to digitally manipulate an image, while "photoshopping" is the act of doing just that. However, Photoshop is the image editing software made by Adobe Systems. Other programs -- such as Acorn or Snapseed -- aren't Photoshop.
Though other brands exists, a TASER is an electroshock defensive weapon made by the company Axon. The device was invented by NASA researcher Jack Cover, who took the name from a novel published in 1911, Tom Swift and His Electric Rifle. TASER is apparently meant to stand for Thomas A. Swift's Electric Rifle.
You might be asked to Xerox something for a co-worker at the office, even if the copy machine in the building wasn't made by Xerox. Xerox has, at times, attempted to encourage people to say they're "photocopying" a document as opposed to "Xeroxing" it to distinguish its brand from its task and therefore, other similar companies.