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trade names into words
Posted: 15 August 2007 01:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Rollerblades (the “correct” non-trademarked term is “in-line skates")
Portakabin

If you use either of these in print (in the UK at least) with an initial lower-case you will get a nasty solicitor’s letter from the company concerned telling you to cease and desist ...

Oh, and Portaloo too ...

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Posted: 15 August 2007 02:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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When I said “google for a link”, I meant look it up in the archives for the old messageboard. You had to use Google for that, although I forget exactly how.

Just include the word wordorigins in the search.

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Posted: 15 August 2007 02:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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For best results, put a plus sign in front of it: +wordorigins

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Posted: 15 August 2007 09:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Thanks for the hint, Dr. Techie. I’d been wondering how to tell Google not to break a word apart when doing a search. If you don’t put that plus sign there, you get lots of hits with the phrase “word origins”. Those made it difficult to find the links to the archive.

Anyway, here’s the thread I was thinking of: Archived nylon thread

I don’t recall aldi’s addition after my second post in that thread.  Interesting to see the reason why they decided not to trademark nylon.

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Posted: 17 August 2007 09:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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Aspirin, though not in Canada, technically, at least when I was there; it was still under copyright and the generic name was ASA (acetylsalicylic acid) tablets.

And xerox, in North America, to mean ‘photocopy’.

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Posted: 17 August 2007 07:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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Regardless of the manufacturer’s name, we called tennis shoes Keds. Also, any carbonated soft drink was a Coke. When you went to a friend’s house, he’d offer you a Coke and ask what kind of a Coke you wanted: Root Beer, Strawberry, Mountain Dew or whatever other soda pop was on hand.

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Posted: 18 August 2007 01:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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Hi, Liza, are you prepared to reveal where in the world you are talking about?  It makes your post more interesting to know if the usage you cite is to be found in, say, the southern US, or northern England or Western Australia or wherever.

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Posted: 18 August 2007 06:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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Aspirin, though not in Canada, technically, at least when I was there; it was still under copyright

Ahem, that’s trademark, not copyright. I hate to be pedantic, but if we’re discussing the topic we should at least correctly identify which body of law applies. Copyright and trademark are very, very different beasts. When you’re talking about trade names and advertising slogans, you are talking about trademark law.

You copyright entire works, such as books, films, performances, songs. You cannot copyright titles, phrases, slogans, or individual words. Copyright is for a limited period, long (life of author plus 70 years), but limited. Copyright is automatic (you don’t need to do anything to be protected) and cannot be lost unless you explicitly state the work is in the public domain. In the US, copyright is regulated by the Library of Congress.

Trademarks, on the other hand, are used to distinguish products and services from one another in the market. They include product names, slogans, and graphic representations that are associated with the product. A trademark is of indefinite duration, lasting as a long as the mark is used. Trademarks must be identified as such when they are used (the “tm” mark in the US) or better yet registered (the ® symbol) with the Patent and Trademark Office to receive protection and can be lost if you don’t don’t defend them (hence all the cease and desist letters from companies like Xerox). Having a trademark become generic can be a major financial loss for a company.

Aspirin is an odd case. The trademark was held by the Bayer Corporation. As Bayer is a German company, Britain, France, and Canada refused to recognize the trademark during WWI. It was never trademarked in those countries. The US, when it entered the war in 1916, seized both trademarks Aspirin and Bayer as enemy property. It sold them off at auction where they were bought by Sterling Pharmaceuticals. The courts subsequently ruled that aspirin had become a generic term and was no longer subject to trademark protection. Until the 1990s, all “Bayer” products sold in the US were actually manufactured by Sterling, not by Bayer. In the 1990s, Bayer bought Sterling and finally reacquired the right to use its own name in the US market.

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Posted: 18 August 2007 04:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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Bayard, hi. I live in the US. If you count school years, I’ve lived in Pennsylvania, California, Ohio, New Mexico, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Virginia. Keds was used everywhere I’ve lived. One could have shoes made by Puma, Sketchers, Nike, New Balance, Adidas or the no-name shoes from the discount store, but we always called them Keds, and everyone understood what “put your Keds on” meant.

On the other hand, Coke as a term for any soft drink seems to be regional, but without rhyme or reason. It’s certainly used in the southern states and in parts of other states. I suspect the spottiness of the usage is because people whose parents are from the South learned it, their friends adapted to the usage and it exists or spreads for that reason. I do know that it was startling to me when I saw someone challenged about her use of the word when she was offering soda pop from an ice chest on a fishing trip in the Pacific Northwest. She asked if anybody was ready for a Coke and we all grabbed cans from the ice chest, but there wasn’t a Coca-Cola of any sort in it. Several people hadn’t heard that use of the word before, and someone said that she must be from the South to have used it in that way. In fact, she is from Idaho.

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Posted: 19 August 2007 06:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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I’ve lived in many of those places (Pennsylvania, Maryland, Viriginia, California and New Jersey to boot) and don’t recall having ever heard Keds used generically. And I don’t think I’ve heard the name at all in the last 25 years. I didn’t even know they still made them, but a web search shows me that the brand is alive and, presumably, well.

Use of Coke to mean any soda is a well-documented Southernism.

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Posted: 20 August 2007 04:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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Came across this while researching something else at the ADS press contact information.

Ronald R. Butters, Professor of English and Cultural Anthropology, Duke University. [among his] Publications: “Linguistic Change in Words One Owns: How Trademarks Become ‘Generic’,” Studies in the History of the English Language II. Ed. By Anne Curzan and Kim Emmons. Topics in English Linguistics. (Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter, forthcoming in 2004) [Jennifer Westerhaus, second author] [Revision of a paper read at the Second Conference on the History of the English Language, University of Washington, Seattle, 23 March 2002.]

I did a search on the book at Amazon and the Butters’ article begins at 111 (and goes for just four pages*).  I love his neologism “genericide” referring to the legal or marketing difficulties that come with a trademarked name becoming generic.

*edit: That is to say that, the excerpt at Amazon only goes from 111 to 113. edit II hence three pages!

[ Edited: 20 August 2007 06:34 PM by Oecolampadius ]
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Posted: 06 September 2007 12:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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There’s a word I’ve just spent a couple of days (on & off - I have a life) finding the meaning of.

colas / colassed / colassing

I found it in an old British Colonial document from 1949 about Montserrat, reporting that “18 miles of road had been colassed .......  but more colassing was needed”

Dictionaries didn’t help (tho’ I can’t get on to the giant OED) and web searching produced mostly misspellings eg. of ‘collapsed’. The one correct usage is in a Trinidad & Tobago archived 1957 school document “the playground has been colassed” .

Colas is a French company whose name is from Cold Asphalt - we tend to use tarmac generically in the UK of course, which is an older and technically inferior method.
I guess Colas must have cornered the West Indian market and it became a local generic term. Trinidad was (is?) an important source of natural bitumen.

I would be interested to know if anyone out there (esp. W.Indies) can tell me more of its history as a word . I’ve written to Colas company to see if they can help ( and out of interest to see if its a generic form of “tarmac” in French).

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Posted: 06 September 2007 06:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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The (superb) Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage has it:

colas [’kolas] n (CarA) A black emulsion of bitumen in water wh, combined with gravel, is used in the cold state, setting hard, for patching pot-holes in roads. Where a grass track had been there was now a wide cutting metalled with jagged stones, raw and newly broken, waiting for a roller to crush, for colas to cover.—Bim (IV:16, E. Napier) [‘A shortened version of Cold Asphalt ... the bitumen used, about 60 percent by volume (with 40 percent water) being derived either from natural asphalt or as a by-product of oil-refining’—H.O. Phelps (UWI, Trin)]

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Posted: 06 September 2007 07:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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Thank you Languagehat.

I got onto the OED via my librarycard, but it ain’t there so have submitted it. Don’t these people incorporate eg.Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage ???

only online ref. (to colassed or colassing - colas has 6 million refs which may take a while to sift...) is
http://www.edu.tt/edu_hosting/prescoll/1957/pg4.htm

[ Edited: 06 September 2007 07:15 AM by neilhow ]
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Posted: 06 September 2007 09:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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Don’t these people incorporate eg.Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage ???

I’m sure they do, but the DoCEU was published in 1996. The OED2 was back in 1989, and they haven’t done the letter C yet in the OED3. They’ll get there, but these things take time.

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