8 Common Words That Need a Trademark Symbol

2 min read

Did you know that many of the words we use to refer to common, everyday items are actually trademarked brand names? When you get a paper cut and ask for a Band-Aid, you're running afoul of copyright law. (Don't worry, we won't tell.) How many of these terms owe you advertising dollars for their regular appearance in your vocabulary?


As a brand name, "Kleenex" refers to a wide range of paper products produced by Kimberly-Clark Worldwide, Inc. In common use, it refers to facial tissues you may be offered when you sneeze.


What would we do without ChapStick to moisturize our lips? We’d use lip balm. ChapStick has been around since the late 1800s and is now owned by Pfizer. It specifically refers to a brand of lip balm that is sold in a tube and applied like lipstick.


Who doesn’t like to hang out and relax in a Jacuzzi? If you wanted to call it by its unbranded name, however, you’d just say "hot tub." The original Jacuzzi company was founded by seven Italian brothers in Northern Italy. Their last name? Jacuzzi.


Rollerblades are the cooler cousins to roller skates. Instead of having two rows of wheels on the left and right of the skate, there's only a single row of wheels down the middle. Rollerblades gained popularity in the 1980s when hockey players added them to their training regimen, and then they earned major street cred with all types of people. Try to say "in-line skates" and you'll just sound like a nerd.


Although Xerox (the company) makes more than just photocopiers, most people say “Xerox” when they make photocopies. The two words are pretty much synonymous now.


As a brand name, "Band-Aid" is owned by Johnson & Johnson — the generic name is "adhesive bandage." Think back to all the cool different designs of Band-Aids you could choose from as a kid. Can you imagine asking for an adhesive bandage when you had a cut or scrape? Too many syllables. It’s easy to see how "Band-Aid" became the everyday word for adhesive bandages.


"Velcro" is the actual name of the company that invented and patented hook and loop fasteners. The original invention was two fabric strips, one with small hooks on it and one with smaller loops. The word "Velcro" is a portmanteau of two French words: velour (velvet) and crochet (hook).


This list would be incomplete without "Polaroids." Those quick camera shots that reveal themselves in front of your eyes are pure magic. The generic name is "instant camera."

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