It may sound like a given that a CEO would always be happy if their company’s products were exceedingly popular. They would be thrilled with the brand recognition and the increased sales.
While this is often true, some potential complications can arise when it comes to intellectual property. In some cases, the brand recognition becomes so extensive that the trademarked terms are used too generically. This can dilute the value of that intellectual property because consumers no longer associate those terms with the brand. They just think of it as the general or generic term for the product, and so the brand recognition is largely lost.
Examples of how this happens
Perhaps the most famous example of how this can occur is with Kleenex. Kleenex is a trademarked company name, and the company makes facial tissues. However many consumers refer to all tissues as “Kleenexes.” This is inaccurate, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is the wording consumers use when conducting online searches or looking for products in a store.
Another common example is Google. Technically, Google is the largest search engine in the world. But rather than saying that they are going to “search for something on Google,” many consumers will say that they are going to “Google it.” It is becoming a generic term that they may employ even if they are using a different search engine.
Issues with intellectual property and the way that it is used can get complicated. Perhaps your company owns a piece of intellectual property, but the term is being used by other businesses that consider it a generic term. It’s very important to know what legal options you have.