Genericness: The passage from a word mark to a lexeme

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Linguists as well as lexicographers mention word (trade) marks as a possible source for expanding the lexicon. This phenomenon manifests genericness. We show here that the process of genericness is counter to the economic-legal essence of trademarks. And this is 'the ultimate horror for any trademark owner': The linguistic success of a mark becomes its economic suicide. After we investigate the economic-legal nature of trademarks and the setting that enables genericness to emerge we examine the linguistic stages of genericness. The study was conducted in Israel. It is based on Israeli legalistic data: legislation and verdicts. It is based on corpora such as Hebrew daily newspapers, literature, ads, and circular letters, and on examination of monolingual: Hebrew-Hebrew dictionaries as well as bilingual English-Hebrew and Hebrew-English dictionaries. The Israeli (Hebrew) cases serve as examples to what is a general phenomenon common to the process of genericness in all countries where the economy and market are judicially controlled (such as by 'trademark' acts, 'Law of passing-off', etc.).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)393-417
Number of pages25
StatePublished - 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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