Quiz: Brand Name or Generic Word?

Staff

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About This Quiz

Brand names and generic words are often confused in our constantly morphing language. Can you tell which of these words are brand names and which are generic words?

Bubble wrap

Bubble wrap was made by Sealed Air Corporation and the product was originally called Air Cap.

Heroin

This was originally a brand name but has since became a generic term (and health plague).

Thermos

Thermos was once a brand name for a vacuum flask, but has been considered generic in the U.S. since the 1960s.

Escalator

Otis Elevator Co. came up with this name, but it has since become a generic term.

Onesies

Those little baby bodysuits? They're called onesies, and trademarked by Gerber.

Aspirin

In the U.S., this Bayer trademark is now considered a generic word, but in dozens of other countries it's a brand name.

Seeing-eye dog

Only one dog training facility (in New Jersey) can use this term; all others are simply called guide dogs.

Xerox

Xerox has launched massive ad campaigns to stop people from referring to photocopying as "Xeroxing."

Crock-Pot

The generic term is "slow cooker," but Crock-Pot is a well-established brand name.

Laundromat

This trademark emerged in the 1940s but expired and became a generic term for a place to go and wash your clothes.

Vaseline

Vaseline might be an exceedingly common petroleum jelly product, but its brand name is still protected.

Breathalyzer

It was originally called the "Drunk-O-Meter," which was eventually changed to "Breathalyzer."

Videotape

The Ampex Corp. made "videotape" so common that it lost its brand-name status.

Sharpie

Sometimes used to describe any permanent marker, Sharpie is still a protected trademark.

Rollerblades

These once fantastically popular inline skates are now owned and marketed by Nordica.

Popsicle

The generic term would be "ice pop," but the brand name (owned by Unilever) is Popsicle.

Formica

The laminate material called Formica is still a protected trademark name even though its name is used in generic terms.

Plexiglas

This brand name emerged in the World War II era, as a transparent but durable material for war machines like submarines and planes.

Scotch tape

The brand name for Scotch tape first emerged in the 1920s as 3M was tweaking the adhesive formula.

Zipper

Zippers were, at one point, a brand name, but that trademark expired.

Trampoline

Trampoline jumping toys were a trademark of Griswold-Nissen Trampoline & Tumbling Co., but now it's just a generic word.

Realtor

To become a Realtor, you must first pass a test and become a member of the National Association of Realtors.

Touch-tone

Younger generations may not even recognize touch-tone phones as a thing; they were originally a trademark of AT&T.

Velcro

Velcro Companies manufactures this ubiquitous fastener, which first hit mass production in the 1950s.

Kerosene

This common fuel name was trademarked in 1854 but then lapsed into generic use.

Dry ice

In 1925, dry ice was a trademarked name but then expired and became a generic term.

Weed eater

Husqvarna AB owns the Weed Eater brand, which is a category of weed trimmers founded more than four decades ago.

Band-Aid

Johnson & Johnson could never have imagined that their Band-Aid brand would become synonymous with adhesive bandages.

Yo-yo

Yo-yo was a brand name that morphed into a generic; it was mass produced in the 1960s as a fun toy for kids.

Dumpster

In the 1930s, the Dempster brothers came up with the Dumpster name for their garbage bins; since then, the name has become so common that it's nearly a generic word.

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