14 brand names we use as everyday words

"A ROSE by any other name would smell as sweet".   

While Shakespeare may have had a point, he also never had to consider stocking his 'portable cooler box' so he could have a few cold ones or tell his friends he was taking his 'stand-up personal watercraft' for a spin on the water.  

And thank goodness we don't have to either in everyday speech.

And it's thanks to some products that were just too innovative and popular for their own good that the name of the brand has actually become the most regularly used name over time, no matter which company makes it.

While some of these brands are still trademarked, at some point some patents lost their legal protection when they became too much of a common name.

But whether they are trademarked still or not - they are entrenched in our language 

And that's the way it is likely to stay, because a gobful like this in an emergency will never do:

"Ouch - I cut my head and have a splitting headache- has anyone got any adhesive bandages and acetylsalicylic acid blood-thinning drugs?"


Check out the line-up here:



1. Esky

Meant to be called: Portable cooler box 

ORIGINALLY released by Malleys in 1952, the term 'Esky' is widely used in Australia as a generic term for a portable cooler box.  It was the first of its kind in Australia and the brand was registered in 1961.


2. Band-aid

Meant to be called: Adhesive bandage

  WHO can't imagine band-aids being anything but popular? But Johnson & Johnson only made $3,000 in its first year in 1920. It has now manufactured well over 100 billion band-aids.


Jetski. john mccutcheon

3. Jet Ski

Meant to be called: Stand-up personal watercraft

OWNED by Kawasaki, if all 'jet skis' were legally called what they were meant to be, the world would not be a very fun place. 


4. Aspirin

Meant to be called: Blood-thinning drug, acetylsalicylic acid  

INTRODUCED in 1897, as part of the Treaty of Versailles, Bayer Healthcare was forced to give up its trademark on Aspirin when Germany was defeated in World War I.    



Yo-yo. PEARL Agency GmbH

  5. Yo-Yo

Meant to be called: Toy on a string  

IF it's not a Duncan, it's not a yo-yo,' Duncan tried to make it clear to the world they were the sole keeper of the beloved yo-yo in 1929, but yo-yo was deemed generic in 1965.  


6. Pogo Stick

Meant to be: Hopping vehicle   

NOW this was clever - the Pogo stick is a combination of the two inventors names: Max Pohlig and Ernst Gottschall who came up with the novel toy in 1920.    


Chapsticks. Contributed

7. Chapstick

Meant to be called: Lip balm  

INTRODUCED in 1912 by Morton Manufacturing Company, Pfizer still has a registered trademark on this iconic product.  


Frisbee dog.
Frisbee dog.


8. Frisbee

Meant to be called: Flying disc  

THE frisbee (introduced in 1957)  is trademarked by toy manufacturing giant Wham-O; the American company that also has a patent on the Hula-Hoop and Slip-'N-Slide.  


An early Ping Pong set.
An early Ping Pong set.


9. Ping Pong

Meant to be called: Table tennis  

JAQUES & Son trademarked Ping Pong in 1901 in the UK before selling the rights to US company Parker Brothers where the name became common place.  


10. Thermos    

Meant to be called: Vacuum flask.   

THE Thermos invention has withstood the test of time since its invention in 1904 by thermos, LLC and lost its trademark when the term was declared generic in 1963.    



Sione Faumuina at the laundromat.
Sione Faumuina at the laundromat.

11. Laundromat

Meant to be called: Coin laundry shop   

THE Laundromat brand was first a wall-mounted automatic washing machine, created by legendary electrical company Westinghouse in 1940 before laundry shops across the world used it.  


Taser. The Chronicle/Nev Madsen


12. Taser

Meant to be called : Stun gun   

INTRODUCED in 1974 by Jack Cover and is now owned by Taser International, Inc.  


13. Velcro

Meant to be called: Tiny hooks that attach to the loops and stick together   

INVENTED in 1941 by Velcro, how could there be nay other name? Certainly no one's come up with a generic one that will catch on.    


Bubble wrap.
Bubble wrap.

14. Bubble Wrap

Meant to be called: Air bubble packaging  

INTRODUCED in 1960 by Sealed Air Corporation, Bubble Wrap was first marketed as wallpaper and insulation, before it found its place in packaging material. 

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