Zamaretto v. Hoover style Genericide

 Another blog entry about drink!

The other night I was watching TV and the break bumpers for the show (the mini adverts at the start and end of the main adverts) were for a drink called “Zamaretto” which appears to be flavoured Amaretto.

I had two thoughts: i) Yeuch; and ii) that has to infringe the “Amaretto” trade mark.

Eleanor and I discussed it the next day. It turns out that Amaretto is not protected by a registered trade mark (or at least not for drinks). Presumably this is because it is a generic term.

Let me explain. You can’t get registered trade mark (RTM) protection for a description of the goods being sold. So you can’t get a RTM for “Cola” or “Fizzy Drink”, but you can get a RTM for a brand such as “Pepsi” or “Cresta“. (Showing my age there!).

This prevents a RTM creating a product monopoly, e.g. a monopoly over cola.

(Product monopolies are not the job of registered trade marks, rather RTMs are limited brand monopolies, or badges of origin.  If you want a product monopoly you need a patent (harder to get) or a design right).

What happens if your product name starts to be used as a generic description of a product? For example, petrol used to be a brand name. Similarly lots of us call any vacuum cleaner a Hoover.

Well there is a risk that you lose your RTM protection. This is known as “genericide”. Nice term!

I am told that the fear of genericide drives Hoover to send out grumpy letters to any newspaper or tv company that uses the term “Hoover” generically. I don’t know if this is true. Perhaps I’ll get a letter from Hoover. If I do then I will post it here.

Also, as explained in Eleanor’s post on Vodkat a seller of an item with a generic and recognised product name, e.g. Vodka, can use the law of passing off to prevent sales of other types of goods under that generic name.   So, in our case, if Zamaretto was not made by using a tradtional Amaretto “recipe” (with the addition of flavour) then one of the traditional Amaretto sellers may be able to force it to rebrand.

Also I just noticed that Zamaretto is made by the same people that sold Vodkat.

Mine’s a beer. Cheers.

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