Saturday, April 27, 2013

X is for ...

Xerox is pretty much synonymous for photocopy , the way Kleenex is for tissue and Bandaid for bandage.

A company's biggest fear is that their brand name becomes so commonly used to describe a product that a judge rules that it's too "generic" to be a trademark. That means that any product — even inferior ones — can legally use the name. A brand usually is declared legally generic after a company sues another firm for using its name and the case goes to a federal court. It's difficult to quantify how much revenue a company loses when its brand is deemed generic. But companies worry that it breeds confusion among consumers. Xerox is trying hard to not be a generic term. The company, which introduced the first automatic copier in the U.S. in 1959, has been on a public crusade for decades to keep its brand from becoming generic. The machine's success has led people to start using "Xerox" to refer to any copying machine, copies made from one and the act of copying. "In the mid- to late-1970s, we ran dangerously close to Xerox becoming 'genericized,'" says Barbara Basney, vice president of global advertising. "That prompted a lot of proactive action to protect our trademark." Xerox has spent millions taking out ads aimed at educating so-called "influencers" like lawyers, journalists and entertainers about its brand name. A 2003 ad said: "When you use 'Xerox' the way you use 'aspirin,' we get a headache." More recently, a 2007 ad read: "If you use "Xerox" the way you use "zipper," our trademark could be left wide open." While people still use "Xerox" generically — the Merriam-Webster dictionary lists the word as both a lower-case verb with the definition "to copy on a xerographic copier" and a trademarked noun — the brand says its campaign has been a success.Xerox is still popular: It's ranked the 57th most valuable global brand, worth $6.4 billion, according to brand consultancy Interbrand. And perhaps most importantly, Xerox hasn't lost its trademark.

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