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1. I don't think it would be necessary to say "Jell-O brand gelatin
dessert,", but rather "Jell-O gelatin dessert,". This is how I was
2. In the style guide of my last company, we came to a compromise: Use
the noun (e.g. Jell-O gelatin dessert)in the first instance in a
chapter, section, etc. However, on a single page where it might begin
to really look silly, we were allowed to drop the noun (e.g. just say
This was presented to the company lawyers, who were very set on the
"use the noun always" side of the fence. Once they saw how odd it can
looked when used many times on a page or in a section, they conceded.
3. Be aware of your audience. My last company did not sell "household"
objects; however, they were a leading company in their market. Some of
their trademarks were in jeopardy of becoming generic for that industry.
This was a big concern for the company.
4. While we might use Band-Aid, Xerox, Kleenex, etc. in everyday spoken
words, the fact that they cannot be used by competitors (because they
are still trademarked) has an advantage. If Martin tells Debbie to go
get bandaids, and Debbie doesn't know anything about bandaids, she will
be more likely to pick up "Band-Aid bandages" than "Cure-Aid bandages".
I do tend to fall on the "why use a noun" side of the fence. What about
Honda? Does anyone ever say "I have a Honda Prelude car"? There are a
ton of examples like this. And I think to myself... Well, gee, everyone
knows it's software. Why do I have to say "SuperCool software" when I
refer to it? But those lawyers do have a way of getting their way.
I agree that it sounds silly to say "Jell-O brand gelatin dessert," and
"Kleenex brand tissues" and stuff like that. Apparently, though, certain
lawyers believe that this is a fairly effective defense against trademarks
entering common usage. This is something I really don't understand. Despite
the valiant efforts of Xerox, Band-Aid, Tylenol, and so forth, they're all
used generically. It may simply be a matter of being able to prove that
you've *tried*. I think it's something like an old wives' tale. An old
lawyers' tale or something. I mean, why don't they say, "Whopper brand
hamburger sandwiches"? It doesn't sound any stupider than "Band-Aid brand
adhesive bandages" or whatever.
Regardless of any kind of legal concern for trademark protection, though, I
would ask myself, "What are the chances?"
I know that the things I work on aren't exactly household objects, and I'd
consider it VERY unlikely that any of the trademarked terms I work with
would come to mean anything in a generic sense. So I don't worry about it.
Besides, it sounds REALLY DORKY. And I'm COOL, NOT DORKY.