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Genericide

Genericide is a new word that has been recently added to the Oxford English Dictionary. We will examine the meaning of the term genericide, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

Genericide is the process by which a trademarked name becomes a generic name through the popular usage of the term. For instance, the term thermos was once a trademarked name, beginning in 1904, to mean a vacuum flask. By 1962 the word thermos was ruled by a judge to be in such common usage to mean a vacuum flask, that the term was generic. This allowed other manufacturers of vacuum flasks to call their products thermoses, though the original inventors still market their product as Thermos Brand thermoses. It is, of course, in a company’s best interest to avoid genericide, preventing copycat products from coming on the market. The word genericide was coined in the 1970s, derived from the word generic, from the Latin root gener- meaning kind or race, and the suffix -cide, derived from the Latin suffix -cida meaning killer. The word genericide was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in March of 2017.


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Examples

Google” has delayed experiencing the same fate as kerosene, heroin, laundromat, and a number of other brand names that became so popular they died of genericide. (Consumerist Magazine)

Alongside savvy marketing and awareness of the pitfalls of genericide stands a formidable legal machine of the kind that admonished Weingarten. (The Independent)

“There’s tension between legal departments concerned about ‘genericide’ and marketing departments concerned about sales,” says Michael Atkins, a Seattle trademark attorney. (The Taipei Times)

Genericide, as it’s known, is the curse of companies whose brands gain such strong currency in the marketplace that they morph into product categories. (The Star)

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