Trademarks, according to the U.S. Patent Office, must be unique. Should a trademarked term become synonymous with a kind of product — think cellophane, dumpster or escalator, for example — the owner can no longer protect its trademark. The result, “genericide.”
Genericide refers to situations in which the public understands and uses a brand name in a generic way to refer to an entire category of goods which results in the loss of the trademark… Companies must walk a fine line of achieving popularity of their trademarks while not becoming too popular that the public perceives their brand as a generic substitution for a category of goods or services.
VELCRO® is derived from two French words: “velour” (velvet) and “crochet” (hook). Swiss electrical engineer George de Mestral obtained his first patent for the hook-and-loop product from Switzerland on 16 March 1954.
Like many inventions, there was an element of serendipity involved. On a hunting trip in 1941, de Mestral “noticed that both his pants and his Irish Pointer’s hair were covered in the burs from a burdock plant.”
After putting those burs under a microscope, de Mestral saw “thousands of tiny hooks that efficiently bound themselves to nearly any fabric (or dog hair) that passed by.”
Years of research and development led to the U.S. Patent Office granting trademark serial number 29,769 to the company, Velcro S.A. on 13 May 1958.
VELCRO® Brand hook and loop covered approximately 3,300 square inches of the interior and exterior of the Apollo 11 command and lunar modules.
Flash forward 60 years. In order to protect their trademark (the patent had expired), the Velcro company launched a hilarious video telling us, in no uncertain terms, that it’s “fucking hook & loop.”
Sep 25, 2017 Our Velcro Brand Companies legal team decided to clear a few things up about using the VELCRO® trademark correctly – because they’re lawyers and that’s what they do. When you use “velcro” as a noun or a verb (e.g., velcro shoes), you diminish the importance of our brand and our lawyers lose their *insert fastening sound.* So please, do not say “velcro shoes” (or “velcro wallet” or “velcro gloves”) – we repeat “velcro” is not a noun or a verb. VELCRO® is our brand. #dontsayvelcro
And the following year, a video response to the responses, which made me laugh out loud!