(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.
Back when I could still afford MAD magazine there was a parody of product placement in films. And the one that entered my mind and lodged there to exit my mouth at inappropriate times was a battle field where the Cavalry had gotten the short end of the stick (I used to love those) and a scout rides up and says, “Over there is General Custer with a VanHeusen through his chest.”
Certain trademarks have entered the language as generic terms. Who says, “Hand me a soft tissue?” No, the term used is Kleenex, a registered term of Kimberly-Clarke or whoever currently owns the trademark.
I made the mistake of referring to a restored 1943 Ford utility vehicle as a jeep in front of a Chrysler salesman and was informed that the term as registered. “So, my uncle’s Willys is not a Jeep? Jeep was not a generic term back in 1943? There were never Jeeps before 1987?”
Also during the second world war, they began using an adhesive tape with strong cotton duck backing and after the war, Manco trademarked the name Duck Tape. Similarly, 3-M has guarded the Scotch Tape Brand.
In my favorite local Mexican restaurant I will order Mexican Coke with my meal. They provide the product made by Coca-Cola in Mexico with sugar rather than high-fructose corn syrup (a product of farm subsidies). I have yet to hear the waiter respond the way the order phone responded when my buddy, then a vice-cop, asked for a coke at a drive-in. “Will that be wet or fluffy?” So far the Coca-Cola corporation has not sued any of the major cartels for copyright infringement on “Mexican coke” or the advertising slogan “things go better with coke.”
In the old Soviet Union there were a number of companies making counterfeit Leica cameras. There are a number of finely crafted ones and there are a number of collectors, including (so I am told) some employees of Leitz Optical. Cameras and optics became Leica some time in the nineties leaving the Leitz corporation to some fairly complicated electronic products. Also, at one point all 35mm double frame rangefinder cameras were called Leicas—then other companies began to push their own branding.
The Soviet Union also marketed (to avoid trademark problems—patents are another matter) a camera very similar to a Pentax K1000 with a Nikon bayonet mount. They also had what looked like a Nikon FM with a Pentax K mount. The real temptation was a Kiev 6×6 which was more or less (mostly less) compatible with Hasselblad.
China—what can you say about a country that has looser point of origin labeling than Germany—built an M-14 clone. Looks right, magazines and ammo compatible, good price point. Parts were not interchangeable.
So be aware that branding and trademark are tools of restricting competition.