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? :-).

12:13 AM | Permalink | Comments [5]
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