28 September 2017Trademarks

Refreshing, amusing and a genericide deterrent: the ‘don’t say Velcro’ video

A viral video released by Velcro encouraging consumers “not to say Velcro” could be useful when trying to avoid ‘genericide’, according to trademark lawyers.

On Monday, September 25, Velcro released a video showing lawyers who represent the firm singing a song that asks consumers to stop using the word “Velcro” when describing its famous fastening material.

Lyrics from the song read:

“We’re a company that’s so successful, that everywhere you go, you see a scratchy, hairy fastener and you say ‘hey, that’s Velcro’. You think it’s awesome for us, we’re famous, but we’re lawyers and it’s causing us grief, because there are trademark laws being broken, it’s all here in this short legal brief.”

In a statement, the company’s CEO Fraser Cameron said the brand aimed to take an “an unconventional approach” to draw attention to an important issue and “to encourage people to understand our heritage and future”.

At the time of writing, the video has received over 350,000 views. It asks people to use the term “hook and loop” as opposed to “Velcro”, which is the trademarked name of the company’s hook and loop product.

“Velcro’s campaign is very clever and engaging,” said Paul Jordan, partner at Bristows.

“More to the point, it could prove useful before a registry or court if the integrity of the mark is under threat. This advert could serve to shore up the validity of the mark whilst serving to promote and increase the profile of the brand at the same time.”

The video goes on to reference other brands which have been in a similar situation.

“We’re doing this for all the successful brands that get so popular that people start using the brand names the wrong way,” the lyrics stated, going on to name Band-Aid and Kleenex for bandages and tissues respectively.

Bill Lister, partner at Fieldfisher, said: “Although this is clearly intended to amuse and grab attention, it has a serious side.

“Many trademarks have become absorbed into everyday language and become generic—one only needs to think of ‘Hoover’, ‘Tannoy’, ‘Thermos’ or ‘Sellotape’.”

He added: “There are many others and ‘Velcro’ is fast becoming one of them. Once that happens, it is very difficult to prove that the trademark has any distinctiveness, and validity then becomes an issue as it no longer serves to exclusively identify the owner.”

Chris McLeod, partner at Elkington and Fife, described the video as “refreshing” and stated it could help Velcro in protecting its mark.

“First up, I think that it is refreshing to see some humour injected into the area of trademarks and it conveys a serious message through that humour,” he stated.

“It is generally the responsibility of the trademark owner to police its trademark in order to stop it becoming the default descriptive term for the product or service in question. As such, I think that the video should count as relatively compelling evidence of policing.”

Fears of becoming ‘generic’ have affected many brands, including photocopying machine company Xerox, which spoke to WIPR last year about the issue.

Margaret Walker, general IP counsel at the company, spoke of her efforts stop the company’s name being used as a verb and therefore deemed as generic in the same way as Sellotape and Zipper.

“The strongest weapon in this fight is education. You need to draw a line between those that are out to infringe and to counterfeit our brand and those who are simply misusing a trademark as a verb and who perhaps don’t even know that it is trademarked,” she said.

Last month WIPR reported that Google is at the centre of a US Supreme Court case in which two men are trying to prove that ‘Google’ has become a generic term that can’t be protected under trademark law.

However, WIPR readers said in a survey that that they felt the term is not generic.

Did you enjoy reading this story?  Sign up to our free daily newsletters and get stories like this sent straight to your inbox

Today’s top stories:

Man pleads guilty to trafficking $2.5m of fake UGGs

Bristows appoints joint managing partner

Jessica Alba seeks to weed out trademark infringement

Gluten-free group takes another bite at Jamie Oliver

Willis hits back at Aon trade secrets allegations

Already registered?

Login to your account

To request a FREE 2-week trial subscription, please signup.
NOTE - this can take up to 48hrs to be approved.

Two Weeks Free Trial

For multi-user price options, or to check if your company has an existing subscription that we can add you to for FREE, please email Adrian Tapping at

More on this story

4 August 2023   There are many ways to protect a brand, and one way is to prevent a trademark from becoming generic, explain Kaajal Nagindas and Kay Rickelman of Spoor & Fisher.
9 October 2017   WIPR readers have said that taking an unconventional approach to trademark enforcement can help brands prevent their marks becoming generic.
6 June 2018   Velcro has released another music video urging people to use its trademark correctly, in response to a video it released last year.