The TASER sword! Interesting idea, right? The good news is that someone has made one. But that’s bad news for us. Why? We didn’t make it. So what’s in a name? TASER is a trademark: it’s only to be used to describe products made by TASER International.
So a guy invents a sword that also produces an electrical arc, he makes a video, he puts it on YouTube & titles it “TASER sword.” The video goes viral & we’ve been busy trying to correct this misuse of our trademarked brand name. Yes, we recognize that most people would realize this is just a guy who was goofing around & not an actual product made by TASER International. So why are we so diligent in trying to protect our brand name?
A company can lose their brand name. Zipper, kerosene, cellophane, nylon, thermos & escalator are common household words, but guess what? Those were all specific brands before they became generic terms for a product in general. Proprietary brand names can lose their registered trademark protection because they became so successful that they drifted into common usage & became generic. It’s like being a victim of your own success. Inappropriate use of a brand name puts the brand at risk.
What signals when a brand is at risk? When the brand name starts to be used as a verb. If we hear that a police officer ‘TASERed a non-compliant suspect,’ that seems innocuous. But pretty soon this verbal usage could drift to mean any kind of ‘shock’ from any ‘electrified stunning device.’ This would mean our brand has been become generic.
TASER’s fate. Our fate depends on the actions we take now to try to stop our brand becoming generic. The courts are influenced not just by general usage, but also by what efforts a company has made to ward off use of their trademark in generic form when deciding to declare a brand name generic or not.
This is why we’re so persistent about protecting our TASER brand name from misuse.
Can you think of any other brand names that may be at risk?