Walkman is back

When your trademark becomes a synonym for your product, this is often the biggest compliment for a brand owner: finally, customers identify our brand with our product.

For a trademark attorney, it is the worst nightmare. Because, as soon as your brand becomes a synonym for the product, all is lost. No more exclusivity. No more trademark rights.

Classic examples of products that are often referred to by their brand name: Escalator, Aspirine, Walkman. Although Aspirine and Walkman are still considered valid trademarks, popularity can come with a price.

Walkman is a classic example, because it was the first portable radio-cassette (a what?) player. It’s massive popularity caused that consumers referred to this product category as ‘walkmans’. Whether or not it was a product by Sony, didn’t matter. But time moved on: cassettes became cd’s (enter Discman!) and cd’s became mp3. The end of Walkman. Or is it?

We noticed that Sony refiled a trademark application for the name WALKMAN last April for a large number of countries. Is the Walkman coming back? And as what? An mp3-player? Or can we finally play our old cassette tapes filled with nostalgia?

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Erwin Hauër

“Hope is not a strategy.”



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