October 05, 2005

Genericide: Xeroxing “Photoshop”

Photoshop was big in pop culture last weekend: on both The West Wing and Desperate Housewives, I’m told, characters mentioned Photoshop by name. Right on. The only catch: the West Wing character asked someone to “Photoshop” something out of picture.

You might think Adobe would be all for the verbing of “Photoshop,” but that’s not the case. It turns out that if a company doesn’t actively protect a trademarked name, it can lose the rights to it. That’s why you see TiVo and many others having to advocate mouth-twisting usages like, “Honey, would you record ‘Extreme Deathmatch 9000′ on the TiVo® DVR?” (You’re not even supposed to call the beloved plastic things “Legos.”)

I’ve been asked several times for the technical term for the process of a product name getting, er, generified, and it seems there isn’t a proper one. That said, “Genericide” seems reasonable.

On a related note, see if you can guess what’s indicated by this infographic. (Where I grew up in Illinois, it was pronounced “paahp.”)

Oh, and one last thing: Friends don’t let friends put a capital “S” in the middle of “Photoshop.” That usage really waves the nitwit flag, you know? :-).

Posted by John Nack at 12:13 AM on October 05, 2005

Comments

  • sPECtre — 9:04 AM on October 05, 2005

    Shudder… Was it Kaï that started it all with his famous “Happy Photoshopping?”
    PECourtejoie

  • John Dowdell — 4:14 PM on October 05, 2005

    I don’t see what the problem is… when we were in New Orleans at the Macromedia conference last Halloween I kept on hearing people ask each other to “Flash this” and “Hey, Flash that”… that was wrong, somehow…? ;-)
    jd

  • John Nack — 8:56 PM on October 05, 2005

    Heh–as long as they didn’t say “Show us your Béziers!,” I think it’s okay.

  • sPECtre — 12:15 PM on October 06, 2005

    We are all the same: our eyes are always attracted by nice Command+Ms.

  • George — 10:48 PM on October 19, 2005

    Don’t you mean “Adobe® Photoshop® software was big in pop culture last weekend”?
    [Yes indeed–Adobe Legal thanks you for your vigilance. ;-) –J.]

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