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U.S. trademark law[]

A generic mark

describes a product in its entirety and, therefore, neither signifies the source of goods nor distinguishes the particular product from other products on the market.[1]


It refers to a term that the relevant purchasing public understands primarily as the common or class name for the goods or services. These terms are incapable of functioning as trademarks denoting source, and are not registrable on the Principal Register under §2(f) or on the Supplemental Register.

Example of generic marks include: CLASSES ONLINE for classes provided via the Internet, PIZZA.COM for a pizza ordering and delivery services, and LIVE PLANTS for plant nurseries. These terms are inherently incapable of being distinctive.

In addition, some fanciful terms that were once distinctive can lose their distinctive quality and "become" generic, through a phenomenon sometimes referred to as "genericide."


  1. George & Co. LLC v. Imagination Entertainment Ltd., 575 F.3d 383, 394 (4th Cir. 2009) (full-text) (internal citations omitted).