Genericide Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Genericide, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Genericide?

The loss of trademark protection that results from a product being synonymous for all products of that type. See the definition for generic mark.

History and Meaning of Genericide

Genericide is a legal term that refers to the process by which a trademark owner loses their rights to exclusive use of a trademark due to the mark becoming generic for the particular goods or services with which it is associated. Genericide occurs when a trademark becomes so widely used that it loses its distinctiveness and the public begins to identify the mark with a particular product or service rather than with the trademark owner. When a trademark loses its distinctiveness, it is said to have become "generic."

Genericide is a significant issue for trademark owners because it means that the mark is no longer protected and can be used by anyone, including competitors. In order to prevent genericide, trademark owners must be diligent in policing their marks and taking steps to prevent others from using them in a generic manner.

Examples of Genericide

Some examples of genericide include:

  • Aspirin
  • Escalator
  • Thermos
  • Cellophane
  • Kleenex

In each of these cases, the trademark owners were not successful in preventing their marks from becoming generic, and as a result, the marks lost their trademark protection.

Legal Terms Similar to Genericide

Some related legal terms include:

  • Trademark dilution: This occurs when a third party uses a similar mark in a way that weakens the uniqueness or reputation of the original mark.
  • Trademark infringement: This occurs when a third party uses a mark that is identical or similar to a trademark in a way that creates confusion among consumers.
  • Trademark registration: This is the process by which a trademark owner applies to register their mark with the relevant government agency in order to obtain exclusive rights to use the mark in connection with specific goods or services.