Vulgarization: The main enemy of successful brands
April 20, 2024

Author: Abg. Alice Salgado

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The main purpose of a brand is to indicate the business origin of a product or service and to differentiate it from others in the market. However, it is possible that over time it loses its differentiating capacity and becomes a commonly used term. Therefore, by becoming a generic denomination, the owner of the name will no longer be able to have intellectual property rights over it.
This phenomenon is classified as brand vulgarization, and it is a risk that weakens not only the distinctiveness of a brand, but also its advertising value and sales force. A clear example is using the term ‘Jacuzzi’ to define a tub with pressurized hot water, when in fact it comes from the Jacuzzi lnc brand. Therefore, said brand is being used as a noun in popular jargon and not as a distinctive sign.
In this way, trademarks that mutate into signs of common use may be subject to cancellation or limitation of their trademark rights. However, to avoid such a situation, it is recommended: 1) to incorporate the symbol® after the brand, which represents ‘registered trademark’, 2) to create advertising campaigns that inform consumers about the business nature of a distinctive sign and, 3) bring actions against competitors who use a certain brand as a generic designation of a product or service.


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