Don't Use It, or We'll Lose It


I thought we owned two TiVos, but I was wrong. Apparently we own two TiVo&reg Brand Digital Video Recorders. And I thought I TiVoed a Reason-sponsored panel discussion that was on C-SPAN the other day, but I guess I recorded it with my TiVo&reg Brand Digital Video Recorder.

The New York Times reports that TiVo is trying to "keep its name from going the way of Xerox and Kleenex" by sending out corrective letters about the trademark's proper use. (Among other things, it's not a verb, and it should never be pluralized.) When I worked on The Cornell Daily Sun, we used to get such warnings regarding Frisbee&reg Brand Flying Discs from WHAM-O, which likewise was worried about becoming a victim of its own success, so dominating the market that its trademark became synonymous with the product. If we dared to run a caption that said "Joe Sophomore '88 plays Frisbee with his dog, Scooter," we'd get a letter.

Which makes me wonder: If WHAM-O was monitoring Frisbee references in college papers, what do companies do about the rampant abuse of their trademarks on the Web? Is print considered more important from a trademark perspective, or is it a matter of audience size?