Velcro doesn't want you to call it 'velcro' anymore


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2017/09/26/velcro-doesnt-want-you-to-ca.html


This sketch from 43 years ago shows kids playing a video game on their "iPad"
#2

I could take some Pro Wings, make them cool, with a big swoop
The sneaker heads would be like Aw, he got the hoop n’ loops.


#3

Yup. You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t on this stuff.

A) Vigorously defend your registered trademark against improper use from the outset - you’re a corporate behemoth squashing FREEDOM!!!

B) Chill out and relax, don’t sweat the small stuff - Enjoy being told that your trademark has lost its distinctiveness and everyone in the world is now free to benefit from the goodwill you built up in your trademark.

C) Don’t do anything for a while, then start trying to stop people using your trademark as a generic term for whatever widget you make? Get the best of both worlds. Everyone derides you for trying to hold back the tide after its already half-destroyed your sandcastle of IP protection.

It is of course particularly good when you have carefully built up your ‘brand’ around the use of your made-up word as the descriptor for your widget.

To be fair Hoover do seem to have managed the fightback fairly well. When I was a kid, a vacuum cleaner was always just a ‘hoover’, you’d ‘hoover’ the living room, etc. That seems much less prevalent these days.

Then again so are their vacuum cleaners.

Which is preferable - domination of the popular perception (and hopefully the market) vs. protection of your IP?


#4

My kids use “velcro” as a generic for fasten. For example, they velcro their seatbelts.


#5

Well, I hope from now on you will sit them down and give them a calm but stern talking to about not misusing valuable IP.

Please won’t someone think of the shareholders?!!?


#6

Why should I care at all about the “importance” of their (or anyone else’s) brand?


#7

Apparently the already barely implicit threat in “and our lawyers lose their [insert fastening sound]” needs to be made more explicit for you…


#8

ima start using it for every noun and verb, like a damn smurf

“i’m hungry, gonna velcro me a velcro sammich”
“check out the velcro on that one? i’d hook-and-loop that”
“go velcro your self”

and so forth


#9

You brought me tears! Let me get out my kleenexes.


#10

I’m going to hoover up that xerox of the velcro.


#11

Hey, look!

Velcro brand is trying to sell its business and wants to use viral videos to pump up its price!

Good luck, guys!


#12

I couldn’t bear to listen to much more than 20 seconds, but they seemed to be arguing that referring to non-VELCRO® velcro as “velcro” in casual conversation was breaching trademark law.

Is it? I thought, in both the US and UK, the law only stopped people misusing trademarks for selling stuff: e.g., marketing their non-VELCRO® velcro as “velcro”.


#13

My understanding is that saying the word isn’t breaching trademark, but it does make it very difficult to keep a trademark. Just ask the company that made Refrigerator brand ice boxes.


#14

It’s a bit of have-and-eat of the the old cake in the case of VELCRO®. They invent a whole new product category, and then rather than come up with both a company name that is catchy and brand-y as well as a product name that is generic and informative, they take a shortcut. With most products we know that the brand name confers the quality, the product name identifies the item. We can distinguish the distinct flavor and quality of Kraft Mac n’ cheese from Annie’s mac n’ cheese because they pair a company name with a generic product name. VELCRO could have done the same, pushing the name VELCRO hooknloops all along, but went for the sexier shortened name that also forces the idea that they are the only ones who make it. They want this to have the effect of making everyone believe they are the only true source, but instead it has the effect of making everyone think every shitty knock-off hooknloop is theirs.

The other issue with VELCRO® is that individual consumers are not the primary purchasers of VELCRO®, it’s a component, more than a product. It would be up to the producers of goods that use VELCRO® materials to label their shoes, wallets and backpack-style-diaper-bag-quick-wetwipe-pocket as being made with “Genuine VELCRO:® brand hook n’ loops”


#15

I thought Velcro was a gift to us all, from the moon, no? I guess my only other question would be the CEO of Velcro’s income last year vs this year, divide that by the number of performers in this video, and you have the number of f**** that I care!


#16

Cute. Utterly will fail to change anyone’s mind, and they might as well develop something new because velcro is now a generic term and has lost its distinctiveness already. Just like aspirin did over a century ago, and so many other products.


#17

Would someone pass me a kleenex, please?


#18

Not yet - which was the point of the video.


#19

Certainly in the UK, using a trademark term for a different product as a private individual in a completely non-commercial setting won’t be much cause for worry about legal action.

Any action for infringement has to be in the context of trade or business.

A registration can be revoked if successfully challenged on grounds that the term has lost its distinctive character through the action or inaction of the trademark owner. That would include not taking action against infringement.

In the UK at least, it does not include telling kids off for calling their shoes ‘velcro shoes’ without checking carefully first.

Not taking action against people selling ‘hook and loop’ strips and calling them ‘Velcro’ - yes.
Not telling off little kids - not grounds for losing your registration.

US mileage may vary.

For a fairly recent example of an attempt to overturn a longstanding trademark on the grounds that it lost its distinctive character see:

http://www.bailii.org/cgi-bin/format.cgi?doc=/ew/cases/EWHC/Ch/2005/13.html

A case that has it all! Judicial explanations of what SPAM is (both the meat and the junk mail), Monty Python, Dambusters…

Outcome hidden behind the spoiler tags for those who really would rather read the judgment for themselves…

SPAM survives!


#20

carygrant