Smart and Dumb … And All At the Same Time

When you need to blow your nose, you almost certainly ask for a “kleenex” and not for a “facial tissue.”

Likewise, you ask for a “Q-tip” and not a “cotton swab.”

And that is the ultimate marketing goal for the maker of any retail product … to have your brand dominate the marketplace to such an extent that your brand name eventually becomes the generic term for all products in that category.

Well, the marketing people may think that way, but evidently the lawyers do not.

In a recent story appearing in the Maui News, the reporter noted that an early morning bargain hunter showed up at a local garage sale with a “coffee-filled Thermos.”

Well, sure … there’s another one of those brand-to-generic descriptors: a Thermos bottle!

Ah, but the legal department for the maker of Thermos bottles clearly doesn’t care that their brand has reached the Mecca of marketing. The company’s legal pooh-bah has sent a finger-wagging letter to the newspaper saying that the name Thermos may not be used with a capital letter unless that usage is required by a rule of grammar — at the beginning of a sentence, for example. Otherwise, says this legal beagle, it’s an infringement on a copyrighted name. Here’s a funny re-cap of this idiocy … a blog posted by an ace reporter at the Maui News … who also happens to be my daughter.
Somewhere back there in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, where they make vacuum bottles with the brand name I dare not mention, a vice-president of marketing is muttering obscenities and banging his head on the wall of his cubicle.