One of the greatest ‘compliments’ in branding is also the most dangerous enemy in trademark law: use as a generic. Did someone photoshop an image, or did he use Adobe® Photoshop® to enhance an image? Did someone xerox a document, or did he use a Xerox® copier to copy a document? Did someone blow his nose in a kleenex, or did he use a Kleenex® tissue to blow his nose? Whenever a registered trademark is used as a generic and the trademark owner has not sufficiently prevented this generic use, all trademark rights are lost. So, what can a trademark owner do? The most important things are the following:
Never use the trademark as a generic;
Systematically act against third parties that misuse the trademark as a generic;
Inform the public on how to properly use the trademark.
Chanel has made a nice leaflet informing that they do not like you using the Chanel® trademark as a generic. Their trademark lawyers ‘positively detest it’.