[Wikipedia-l] Genericized trademarks (was Re: wikipedia in China)

Michael Snow wikipedia at earthlink.net
Sat Sep 25 05:28:51 UTC 2004

Jens Ropers wrote:

> If it acts like napalm but just happens to contain ''slightly''  
> different chemicals, ''plus added oxidisers'', then of course it's  
> ''totally irresponsible'' to call the substance napalm.
> Jayzuz, that would be like--like calling a land rover a jeep! Or  
> calling a whirlpool a jacuzzi!! Or--gasp--calling photocopying  
> xeroxing!!! How TOTALLY inaccurate!!!!
> </irony> 

Actually, from the perspective of the owners of those respective 
trademarks (Jeep, Jacuzzi, and Xerox) it would be totally inaccurate and 
irresponsible. You may not personally care about such things, but they 
would go to a great deal of effort to discourage people from using those 
terms incorrectly.

Wittingly or not, the elements of your analogy have a significant point 
in common, which is that these are all trademarks in danger of 
genericide (fortunately, a much less violent demise than those you have 
been arguing about). Interestingly enough, I discovered that our article 
on napalm states that it too is a trademark, belonging in this case to 
Dow Chemical. However, my initial research was unable to verify this 
claim. Does anybody have a source that could back this up? I rather 
wonder whether napalm as a trademark might already have gone generic, 
given how many people use it to mean any gasoline-based military 
incendiary device, as shown by this discussion.

Instead of flaming each other from divergent points of view, perhaps we 
could redirect our focus to getting facts correct in our articles.

--Michael Snow

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