(tee' vo): Noun, Verb, or Guarded Trademark?

If TiVo has its way, it won't go the way of Xerox, Kleenex, and Google. According to The New York Times, at least, TiVo is beginning to aggressively defend its trademark, fighting those who try to make it a verb (to TiVo: To record television digitally) or a noun (TiVo: a Boyfriend, as in Miranda Hobbes'). To me, the brand-as-verb (or noun, for that matter) has always seemed to bestow a sort of flattery; a sense that your brand is so well-known and so powerful that people use it as part of their practical, everyday speech. Something tells me the trademark lawyers don't agree with me. What do you think?

(Excuse me, I have to go TiVo—er, digitally record—Jon Stewart.)

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  • April Breeden

    Linoleum, zipper, and even escalator were all once trademarked brand names. While it may seem like flattery, once the trademarked name is used as a generic term in speech, competitors may start using it to advertise their product. For example, a cable company offering DVR cable boxes could advertisements by saying, "You want to TiVo your favorite shows? Call us for installation." This hurts TiVo's advertising and brand value.

  • David Paull

    I blogged this earlier today here and completely agree with you. I understand the importance of protecting a trademark, but the phenomenon of a product name becoming a generic within the category means that product has become (or, at least seems) ubiquitous and that's a good thing. It also gets consumers using that product name instead of others, even when they mean another. To me, this seems like lawyers winning out over marketers.