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

Jens Ropers ropers at ropersonline.com
Sat Sep 25 13:46:48 UTC 2004

I agree with what you said below, yet I will continue to call ALL kinds 
of napalm-type weapon "napalm", because the word very deservedly 
carries a horrible connotation and the newer weapons' slightly altered 
formula makes them no less despicable, especially in cases where the 
they're actually worse (like having "added oxidisers").

Let's not forget that the article rightly pointed out that several 
official documents from the U.S. military itself referred to the newer 
napalm-alike weapons as "napalm".
"If that's what you call it yourself you can't scream murder over other 
folks calling it that."

This reminds me of the fact that a vast variety of (much more 
different) chemical substances are all referred to as the drug 
"ecstasy". The point is that in the case of someone's legitimate and 
ethical business I can actually sympathize with companies' concerns 
over (nevertheless widespread) genericalization of their trademark. In 
case of the makers and users of napalm or ecstasy I have no such 
sympathy: Their case to me is analogous to a pedophile serial killer 
trying to sue a police detective for causing him mental anguish.

-- ropers

On 25 Sep 2004, at 07:28, Michael Snow wrote:

> 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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