Did your book’s character play with Silly Putty or modeling clay? Does his father sit in a La-Z-Boy or a reclining chair? Does his mother use Febreze or a fabric deodorizer?
Many of the terms we use are actually trademarked brand names. They have become common household terms we use interchangeably with their generic counterparts.
Trademarked words may not be completely off-limits for writers, but some are legally restricted. Below is a list of 30 words and their generic counterparts. The 30 words on the left are still legally trademarked and cannot be used by competitors. These terms are actively enforced by their trademark owners.
Astro Turf Artificial Turf
Band-Aid Adhesive Bandage
Bubble Wrap Inflated Cushioning
ChapStick Lip Balm
Cheez Whiz Processed cheese spread
Coke Cola, Soft Drink, Pop, Soda
Crock-Pot Slow Cooker
Dumpster Front loader waste container
Frisbee Flying Disc
Glad Wrap Cling-film
Google Search Engine
Hoover Vacuum Cleaner
Hula Hoop Toy Hoop
Jacuzzi Hot Tub
Jeep Compact Sport Utility Vehicle
Jell-O Gelatin, Pudding
Kleenex Facial Tissue
Polaroid Instant Film
Post-its Sticky Notes
Q-tips Cotton Swabs
Rollerblade Inline Skates
Saran Wrap Plastic Wrap, Cling Film
Sharpie Permanent Marker
Styrofoam Extruded Polystyrene Foam
Taser Electroshock Weapon
Vaseline Petroleum Jelly
Velcro Hook-and-Loop Fastener
Windex Glass and Surface Cleaner
This is only a small sample of trademarks many of us use in a generic connotation. Writing guides such as the AP Stylebook advise writers to "use a generic equivalent unless the trademark is essential to the story."
If you want a more detailed and up-to-date list of trademarked words and phrases, you can visit the International Trademark Association at www.inta.org. You can also use Google, I mean an internet search engine to query further examples.