Sunday, April 6, 2014

Xerox Says Don't Say 'xerox'

Much to the consternation of the Xerox Corporation, 'xerox' still means 'to copy' or 'to photocopy'. It's even listed as a verb in the Oxford English Dictionary.

Although less used today, if someone asked you to Xerox a report you most certainly would understand what they wanted you to do. That's a bad thing.

According to the company, when people use 'xerox' as a verb there is a possibility it could be considered a 'generic word' and no longer a protected trademark. A trademark is said to become genericised when it began as a distinctive product identifier but has changed in meaning to become generic.  

 If 'xerox' becomes genericized, it may open that word up useage by competitors. 

In response, Xerox Corporation has run  campaigns in places like Editor and Publisher promoting to not use 'xerox' as a verb. This is according to Rebeca Tushnet an expert on trademark law at Georgetown University in a 2009 New York Times article titled, "The Bower of the Brand as Verb" by Noam Cohen.

Xerox Corporation has stated "you cannot 'xerox' a document, but you can copy it on a Xerox Brand copying machine".

Please hand Xerox Corporation a Kleenex. Blow your nose and go with the flow. Even if your product name is genericized, its not a bad idea to have your product name mentioned often, even your competition. 

Now I'm off to 'google' some more information on genericized tradenames.


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