50 Words You Might Not Know Are Trademarked

Many of the items we use every day, like zippers and escalators, were once brand names. Here are some trademarked names that are often used as generic terms today.

1. Jet Ski

You might think you’re riding around on a Jet Ski, but if it’s not made by Kawasaki Heavy Industries, it’s just a personal watercraft.

2. Bubble Wrap

iStock

Bubble Wrap is probably the greatest contribution made to our society by Sealed Air Corporation, which they rightly trademarked.

3. Onesies

The term Onesies, referring to infant bodysuits, is owned by Gerber Childrenswear. According to their website, the trademark is aggressively enforced. (Twosies and Funzies also belong to Gerber.) If you're selling your own, you're gonna want to call them bodysuits.

4. Crockpot

sumnersgraphicsinc iStock via Getty Images

The Crockpot, a brand name for the slow cooker, was originally developed as a beanery appliance.

5. Jacuzzi

Jacuzzi is not only a brand of hot tubs and bathtubs; they also make mattresses and toilets, which means you can sleep on a Jacuzzi that's oddly not a water bed.

6. Fluffernutter

bhofack2/iStock via Getty Images

Fluffernutter is a registered trademark of the makers of Marshmallow Fluff, Durkee-Mower, Inc.

7, 8, and 9. Frisbee, Hula Hoop, and Slip 'n Sliide

Frisbee is currently owned by WHAM-O, but there have been ongoing legal battles to make this word and several others generic. In 2010, Manley Toys Ltd. challenged WHAM-O, arguing that the terms Frisbee, Hula Hoop and Slip ’N Slide have already become generic in the public lexicon. As recently as 2018, WHAM-O was regularly keeping an eye on counterfeiters who violated their trademark.

10. Chapstick

iStock

Chapstick is a brand name of lip balm produced by Pfizer. In the event that you find yourself enjoying this product too much, websites dedicated to helping Chapstick addicts are available.

11. Kleenex

The perfect time to remind a friend or family member that Kleenex is a brand name for a tissue is right when they are desperately begging you to hand them one.

12. Ping-Pong

Taveesaksri iStock via Getty Images

Ping-Pong was trademarked in 1901 as a brand of table tennis products named for the sound the ball makes when it hits the table.

13. Powerpoint

Unless you're using the Microsoft program, you're using a presentation graphics program or a pitch deck program.

14. Q-Tips

When Q-tips were originally released, they were called Baby Gays. The name was changed to Q-tips—the “Q” standing for quality—in 1926. Although they have changed hands several times since then, Unilever owns the brand today.

15. Rollerblade

michelangeloop iStock via Getty Images

Two hockey-player brothers designed Rollerblade inline skates from a pair of old roller skates in 1979. They were the only brand of inline skates until the mid-1980s, when several other companies emerged.

16. Scotch Tape

According to legend, Scotch tape earned its name when a frustrated customer told a 3M scientist to “take it back to your Scotch bosses and tell them to put more adhesive on it.”

17. Sharpie Marker

The permanent marker was invented in 1956, but the Sharpie wasn’t introduced until 1964. Today, the products are almost synonymous with one another.

18. JELL-O

Robbie Gorr/iStock via Getty Images

In 1899, Pearle Wait sold his recipe for Jell-O to Orator Woodward for $450. In 1902, sales for the product were around $250,000. Today, the gelatin dessert is owned by Kraft.

19. Tupperware

Tupperware™ is a brand that got its name from its creator, Earle Silas Tupper.

20. Velcro

svetik15/iStock via Getty Images

George de Mastral invented Velcro when he discovered that burrs stuck to matted dog fur. Today, it is the world’s most prominent brand of hook and loop fasteners.

21. Weed Eater

Weed Eater is owned by Husqvarna Outdoor Products, so you're probably using a string trimmer (or a whipper-snipper if you're feeling frisky).

22. Wite-out

Don’t ask BIC what’s in their line of correction fluid. The exact ingredients of Wite-out are confidential.

23. Band-Aids

wabeno/iStock via Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson manufactured gauze and adhesive tape separately until Earle Dickinson had the idea to combine them to create Band-Aids for his accident-prone wife.

24. Novocain

Novocain is actually the brand name of Procaine Hydrochloride owned by Hospira Inc.

25. TASER

TASER is a trademark of TASER International, and shouldn’t technically be used as a verb. To be fair, “Don’t hit me with that electroshock weapon, bro!” is probably hard to shout under duress.

Bonus fact: TASER is an acronym. It stands for "Thomas A. Swift's Electric Rifle."

26. Zamboni

LeArchitecto/iStock via Getty Images

The Zamboni is an ice resurfacer named after its inventor, Frank Zamboni.

27. Dumpster

The word has become largely generalized and the trademark is not widely enforced. The Dumpster got its name from the Dempster Brothers Inc., who combined their name with the word “dump” to create the Dempster Dumpster.

28. Popsicle

Like many great things in life, the Popsicle was invented by accident. As the story goes, one winter night in 1905, 11-year-old Frank Epperson left a mixture of soda and water with a stick in it on his porch. Almost 20 years later, Frank began selling his creation at a lemonade stand he was running and the treat has been popular ever since.

Today, Unilever recommends that you call generic frozen pops on a stick pops, ice pops, or freezer pops. Although, depending on where you’re from, offering someone a pop could get very confusing.

29. Post-Its

Everyone knows Post-its, a trademark of 3M (no, they were not the invention of Romy and Michele). In fact, a very different duo is responsible: Dr. Spencer Silver invented the adhesive in 1968 and scientist Art Fry thought up a practical use for it in 1974. In 1980, Post-its were available for sale.

30. Ouija Board

homeworks255/iStock via Getty Images

The Ouija board was first introduced by Elijah Bond in 1890 as a practical way to communicate with spirits, making dealing with a pesky ghost much more convenient. Today, it is a trademark of Hasbro Inc.

31. Plexiglas

Plexiglas got its start in World War II aircraft canopies, has since become the better-known name for acrylic glass.

32. Styrofoam

PamWalker68 iStock via Getty Images

No matter how many picnics you’ve been to or how much time you spend at the water cooler, you’ve never had a drink out of a Styrofoam cup. Expanded Polystyrene is the generic name for the material that we typically think of as Styrofoam. The brand is a trademark of the Dow Chemical Company, which produces the material in sheaths for construction projects and is never made in the shape of a plate, cup, or cooler.

33. Thermos

Although the Thermos was invented in 1892, it wasn’t paired with a lunch box until 1953. The set, which originally featured a picture of Roy Rogers, sold more than 2 million units in the first year.

34. Vaseline

Robert Chesebrough invented Vaseline, now a registered trademark of Unilever, when he observed oil workers smearing residue from drills on their skin to heal wounds. He was just 22 at the time. Twenty years later, in 1880, Vaseline was selling throughout the United States at the rate of one jar per minute.

35. Adrenalin


JackF iStock via Getty Images

This tale of two Adrenalin(e)s will really get your blood pumping: According to Merriam-Webster, in the 1800s, there were several scientists working with a hormone made in the adrenal glands, what we now call adrenaline. Pharmacologist Henry Dale wanted to call it adrenaline, but an American company that had already trademarked Adrenalin protested due to the similarity. Dale prevailed, and today we can just adrenaline without worry. Adrenalin, minus the “e,” is still protected for pharmacology use.

35. X-acto

X-ACTO began in 1917 as a medical company that created syringes. Eventually, they began creating surgical scalpels that evolved into the hobby knives that we associate with X-ACTO. X-ACTO is a brand and a division of Elmer’s Products.

37. Sheetrock

If you want to use the word drywall, go for it. But Sheetrock is a drywall brand name owned by the United States Gypsum Company.

38. Memory Stick

Veronika Zimina/Stock vai Getty IImages

The commonly used word to describe a type of flash drive used to store large amounts of data is protected by Sony, which launched the technology in 1998.

39. Lava Lamp

The lamp with the amorphous goo (mostly paraffin wax) inside was originally called the “Astro” lamp, but in 1965, he sold the U.S. manufacturing rights to a company called Lava Lite. The Lava brand is still trademarked today.

40. Realtor


JackF iStock via Getty Images

The word Realtor is trademarked by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). If the person selling your home isn’t licensed by NAR, he or she is a real estate agent, not a realtor.

41. Auto-Tune

Altering voices in post-production is almost a given these days, but not all of it is considered true Auto-Tune. A trademark of Antares Audio Technologies, Auto-Tune uses a proprietary method of pitch correction to improve or change vocal performances.

42. Astro Turf

“AstroTurf” is commonly used to refer to any type of artificial grass, but the AstroTurf brand would prefer that you didn’t, especially since they invented synthetic turf.

43. Seeing Eye Dog

bobbymn iStock via Getty Images

The Seeing Eye is the oldest guide dog school in the world, and only dogs who have gone through the training program in Morristown, New Jersey, can truly be called Seeing Eye dogs. Other dogs trained to help visually impaired people should be referred to as guide dogs.

44. Comic-Con

In 2017, Comic-Con International, which holds the annual San Diego fan convention, won a nasty legal battle against the Salt Lake Comic Con (now the FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention) over the rights to the phrase Comic-Con.

45. Mace

If the self-defense weapon you’re carrying isn’t made by Mace Security International, you’re not actually using Mace—you’re using plain old pepper spray.

46. Formica

The Formica Corporation has been fighting hard to keep their trademark since the 1970s—and so far, they’re winning. Invented at Westinghouse in 1912, the product was originally a substitute for the mineral mica, which was used in insulation—hence, “for mica.”

47. Hacky Sack

JRLPhotographer iStock via Getty Images

The patent and trademark for the term “Hacky Sack” goes back to 1979. Five years later, the brand was acquired by Wham-O, which still holds the rights today. The preferred non-branded term? Footbag.

48. Muzak

The Muzak Company was founded by U.S. Army Major General George Squier and had more offerings than just soothing instrumentals. But as that part of the catalog became popular, people began referring to the songs themselves as Muzak.

49. Freon

While we may use Freon to refer to the refrigerant that goes in some air conditioning units and cars, that particular word is a registered trademark belonging to DuPont. The generic term is a bit of a mouthful: fluorinated hydrocarbon refrigerant.

50. Fiberglass

Owens-Corning has not only trademarked the words Fiberglass and Fiberglas, but also the distinct color (yes, you can trademark colors!) of the product: PINK.

Amazon's Best Black Friday Deals: Tech, Video Games, Kitchen Appliances, Clothing, and More

Amazon
Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Black Friday is finally here, and Amazon is offering great deals on kitchen appliances, tech, video games, and plenty more. We will keep updating this page as sales come in, but for now, here are the best Amazon Black Friday sales to check out.

Kitchen

Instant Pot/Amazon

- Instant Pot Duo Plus 9-in-115 Quart Electric Pressure Cooker; $90 (save $40)

- Keurig K-Cafe Special Edition; $190 (save $30)

- Ninja OS301 Foodi 10-in-1 Pressure Cooker and Air Fryer; $125 (save $75)

- Nespresso Vertuo Next Coffee and Espresso Machine by Breville; $120 (save $60)

- KitchenAid KSMSFTA Sifter with Scale Attachment; $95 (save $75)

- Keurig K-Mini Coffee Maker; $60 (save $20)

- Cuisinart Bread Maker; $80 (save $97)

- Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker; $139 (save $60)

- Aicook Juicer Machine; $35 (save $15)

- JoyJolt Double Wall Insulated Espresso Mugs - Set of Two; $14 (save $10)

- Longzon Silicone Stretch Lids - Set of 14; $16 (save $11)

- HadinEEon Milk Frother; $37 (save $33)

Home Appliances

Roomba/Amazon

- iRobot Roomba 675 Robot Vacuum with Wi-Fi Connectivity; $179 (save $101)

- ASAKUKI 500ml Premium Essential Oil Diffuser; $22 (save $4)

- Facebook Portal Smart Video Calling 10 inch Touch Screen Display with Alexa; $129 (save $50)

- Bissell air320 Smart Air Purifier with HEPA and Carbon Filters; $280 (save $50)

- Oscillating Quiet Cooling Fan Tower; $59 (save $31)

- TaoTronics PTC 1500W Fast Quiet Heating Ceramic Tower; $55 (save $10)

- Vitamix 068051 FoodCycler 2 Liter Capacity; $300 (save $100)

- Ring Video Doorbell; $70 (save $30)

Video games

Sony

- Marvel's Spider-Man: Game of The Year Edition for PlayStation 4; $20 (save $20)

- The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening; $40 (save $20)

- Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity; $50 (save $10)

- Marvel's Avengers; $25 (save $33)

- The Last of Us Part II for PlayStation 4; $30 (save $30)

- LEGO Harry Potter: Collection; $15 (save $15)

- Ghost of Tsushima; $40 (save $20)

- BioShock: The Collection; $20 (save $30)

- The Sims 4; $24 (save $20)

- God of Warfor PlayStation 4; $10 (save $10)

- Days Gonefor PlayStation 4; $20 (save $6)

- Luigi's Mansion 3 for Nintendo Switch; $40 (save $20)

Computers and tablets

Microsoft/Amazon

- New Apple MacBook Pro 16 inches with 512 GB; $2149 (save $250)

- Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 with 13.5 inch Touch-Screen; $1200 (save $400)

- Lenovo ThinkPad T490 Laptop; $889 (save $111)

- Amazon Fire HD 10 Tablet (64GB); $120 (save $70)

- Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Edition Tablet (32 GB); $130 (save $70)

- Apple iPad Mini (64 GB); $335 (save $64)

- Vankyo MatrixPad S2 Tablet; $120 (save $10)

Tech, gadgets, and TVs

Apple/Amazon

- Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS; $120 (save $79)

- Seneo Wireless Charger, 3 in 1 Wireless Charging Station; $16 (save $10)

- SAMSUNG 75-inch Class Crystal 4K Smart TV; $998 (save $200)

- Nixplay 2K Smart Digital Picture Frame 9.7 Inch Silver; $238 (save $92)

- All-New Amazon Echo Dot with Clock and Alexa (4th Gen); $39 (save $21)

- MACTREM LED Ring Light 6" with Tripod Stand; $16 (save $3)

- Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote; $28 (save $12)

- DR. J Professional HI-04 Mini Projector; $93 (save $37)

Headphones and speakers

Beats/Amazon

- Beats Solo3 Wireless On-Ear Headphones; $120 (Save $80)

- Apple AirPods Pro; $169 (save $50)

- Anker Soundcore Upgraded Bluetooth Speaker; $22 (save $8)

- Powerbeats Pro Wireless Earphones; $175 (save $75)

- JBL Boombox; $280 (save $120)

Movies and TV

HBO/Amazon

- Game of Thrones: The Complete Series; $115 (save $89)

- Jurassic World 5-Movie Set; $23 (save $37)

- Deadwood: The Complete Series; $42 (save $28)

- Back to the Future Trilogy; $15 (save $21)

Toys and Games

Amazon

- Awkward Family Photos Greatest Hits; $15 (save $10)

- Exploding Kittens Card Game; $10 (save $10)

- Cards Against Humanity: Hidden Gems Bundle; $14 (save $5)

- LOL Surprise OMG Remix Pop B.B. Fashion Doll; $29 (save $6)

- LEGO Ideas Ship in a Bottle 92177 Expert Building Kit; $56 (save $14)

Furniture

Casper/Amazon

- Casper Sleep Element Queen Mattress; $476 (save $119)

- ZINUS Alexis Deluxe Wood Platform Bed Frame; $135 (save $24)

- ROMOON Dresser Organizer with 5 Drawers; $59 (save $11) 

- AmazonBasics Room Darkening Blackout Window Curtains; $26 (save $5)

- Writing Desk by Caffoz; $119 (save $21)

- SPACE Seating Office Support Managers Chair; $112 (save $116)

- Rivet Globe Stick Table Lamp; $53 (save $17)

- Christopher Knight Home Merel Mid-Century Modern Club Chair; $188 (save $10)

- Walker Edison Furniture Industrial Rectangular Coffee Table; $121 (save $48)

Beauty

Haus/Amazon

- MySmile Teeth Whitening Kit with LED Light; $21 (save $12) 

- Cliganic USDA Organic Lip Balms Set of Six; $6 (save $4)

- HAUS LABORATORIES By Lady Gaga: LE RIOT LIP GLOSS; $7 (save $11)

- Native Deodorant for Men and Women Set of Three; $25 (save $11) 

- BAIMEI Rose Quartz Jade Roller & Gua Sha; $14 (save $3)

- Honest Beauty Clearing Night Serum with Pure Retinol and Salicylic Acid; $20 (save $8)

- WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo and Hair Conditioner Set; $30 (save $5) 

- La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel Cleanser; $15 (save $5)

- wet n wild Bretman Rock Shadow Palette; $9 (save $6)

- EltaMD UV Daily Tinted Face Sunscreen Moisturizer with Hyaluronic Acid; $25 (save $6)

Clothes

Ganni/Amazon

- Ganni Women's Crispy Jacquard Dress; $200 (save $86) 

- The Drop Women's Maya Silky Slip Skirt; $36 (save $9)

- Steve Madden Women's Editor Boot; $80 (save $30)

- adidas Women's Roguera Cross Trainer; $40 (save $25)

- Line & Dot Women's Elizabeth Sweater; $74 (save $18)

- Levi's Men's Sherpa Trucker Jacket; $57 (save $41)

- Adidas Men's Essentials 3-Stripes Tapered Training Joggers Sweatpants; $28 (save $12)

- Timex Men's Weekender XL 43mm Watch; $32 (save $20)

- Ray-Ban Unisex-Adult Hexagonal Flat Lenses Sunglasses; $108 (save $46) 

- Reebok Men's Flashfilm Train Cross Trainer; $64 (save $16)

Sign Up Today: Get exclusive deals, product news, reviews, and more with the Mental Floss Smart Shopping newsletter!

What Is a Scuttlebutt, and Why Do We Like to Hear It?

Photo by Courtney Nuss on Unsplash

Casual conversation is home to a variety of prompts. You might ask someone how they’re doing, what’s new, or if they’ve done anything interesting recently. Sometimes, you can ask them what the scuttlebutt is. “What’s the scuttlebutt?” you’d say, for example, and then they’d reply with the solicited scuttlebutt.

We can easily infer that scuttlebutt is a slang term for information or maybe even gossip. But what exactly is scuttlebutt, and why did it become associated with idle water cooler talk?

According to Merriam-Webster, a scuttlebutt referred to a cask on sailing ships in the 1800s that contained drinking water for those on board. It was later used as the name of the drinking fountain found on a ship or in a Naval installation. The cask was known as a butt, while scuttle was taken from the French word escoutilles and means hatch or hole. A scuttlebutt was therefore a hatch in the cask.

Because sailors usually received orders from shouting supervisors, talking amongst themselves was discouraged. Since sailors could congregate around the fountain, it became a place to finally catch up and exchange gossip, making scuttlebutt synonymous with casual conversation. The scuttlebutt was really the only place to do it.

Nautical technology made the scuttlebutt obsolete, but the term endured, becoming a catch-all word for unfounded rumors.

The next time someone asks you what the scuttlebutt is, now you can tell them.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.