Most Famous Trademarks: Everything You Need to Know
Many of the most famous trademarks are actually sounds. They can be commercial jingles or even a single note. 7 min read
2. “Genericized” Brands (Synonymous With Their Product Categories)
3. The Most Ridiculous Trademark Attempts Ever
4. Most Valuable Brands in the World
The 17 Most Recognizable Trademark Sounds
Many of the most famous trademarks are actually sounds. They can be commercial jingles or even a single note. The seventeen most recognizable trademarked sounds include:
- The musical notes used to identify the television network NBC, which are G, E, and C. These notes were first broadcast over the radio in 1950.
- The lion's roar that opens MGM films.
- “Sweet Georgia Brown,” a song used by The Harlem Globetrotters basketball team.
- The Russian-style song used by the video game Tetris.
- The five notes used by Intel.
- Cartoon character Homer Simpson's catchphrase “D'Oh!” which is owned by Fox.
- The nine-bar musical opening to 20th Century Fox films.
- The theme for Looney Toons owned by Time Warner.
- The letters “AT&T” spoken aloud with background music.
- Checker's Restaurant's “Cha-Ching.”
- The “Yahoo!” yodel.
- The standard ringtone on Nokia phones.
- The jingle for Mister Softee.
- America Online's “Hello and Welcome to Moviefone.”
- The New York Stock Exchange's opening bell and crowd noise.
- The popping sound in two and six tones used by TiVo.
- The giggle of the Pillsbury Doughboy.
“Genericized” Brands (Synonymous With Their Product Categories)
There are some brands that have become so popular that they have become synonymous with the product that they represent. For example, the brand Band-Aid is now used as shorthand for all adhesive bandages, even though it actually represents a single type of bandage produced by Johnson & Johnson. Similarly, many people refer to all gelatin products as Jell-O.
Other brands that have become synonymous with their product category include:
- Frisbee, a type of flying disc.
- Butterscotch, a pudding flavor that was once a trademark of Parkinson's.
- Kleenex, a popular tissue brand.
- Windex, which is a type of glass cleaner.
- Q-Tips, which are one brand of cotton swab.
- Zipper, a trademarked device from B.F. Goodrich that attaches one piece of fabric to another.
- Yo-Yo, a toy originally trademarked by Duncan Yo-Yo Company.
- Popsicle, a famous brand of ice pop from Unilever.
- Escalator, a moving staircase created and trademarked by Otis Elevator.
- Vaseline, a Unilever-owned brand of petroleum jelly-based products.
- Thermos, a vacuum flask and trademark of Thermos GmbH that became generic in 1963.
- Scotch-Tape, a trademarked transparent adhesive brand belonging to 3M.
- Ping Pong, a table tennis brand first trademarked by Jacques and Son and later by Parker Bros.
- Velcro, a hook-and-loop fabric fastener owned by a company of the same name.
- Kool-Aid, a drink mix brand belonging to Kraft Foods Company.
- Plexiglas, a famous shatter-proof glass brand initially trademarked by Rohm and Haas and later owned by Arkema.
- Cellophane, a regenerated-cellulose transparent sheet that originally belonged to Dupont and later to Innovia Films Ltd.
- Bubble Wrap, a trademarked set of packaging and cushioning products from Sealed Air Corp.
- Aspirin, a generic product in the U.S. and a Bayer-owned trademark in many countries.
- Kerosene, a type of combustible liquid that became generic many years after it was trademarked by Abraham Gesner.
- Dumpster, a large steel trash receptacle belonging to the Dumpster brand.
- Tupperware, a trademarked brand of hard-plastic containers owned by Tupperware Brands Corp.
- Trampoline, a recreational device comprising of coiled springs and strong fabric with a trademark held by George Nissen.
- Styrofoam, a form of foam insulation produced and trademarked by The Dow Chemical Company.
- AstroTurf, an artificial turf set that is first trademarked by Monsanto and then by AstroTurf LLC.
- Post-It Note, a 3M-trademarked small piece of paper with adhesive for sticking to something temporarily.
- Rollerblade, a pair of inline skates from Nordica.
- Crock-Pot, a trademarked slow-cooking device from Sunbeam Products.
- Chapstick, a brand of lip balm owned by Pfizer.
- Hacky Sack, a foot-bag trademarked by Wham-O.
- Drano, a drain cleaner belonging to S.C. Johnson & Sons.
- Wite-Out, a Bic-trademarked correction fluid.
- Nyquil, nighttime medication from Procter & Gamble.
- Tarmac, a trademark for road-surface materials owned by Tarmac Limited.
- U-Haul, a delivery service provided by AMERCO.
- Tabasco, a trademarked hot sauce from McIlhenny Co.
- Taser, a stun gun that is trademarked by Taser International.
- Speedo, a tight-fitting bathing suit with a trademark belonging to Pentland Group.
- Realtor, a trademark of the National Association of Realtors that is identified with its real estate organization's members.
- Dry Ice, Dry Ice Co.'s trademarked solid carbon dioxide-based cooling agent.
- Powerpoint, a presentation software application with a Microsoft trademark.
- Stetson, a term trademarked by Old Granddad Industries that is used to refer to a cowboy hat.
- Winnebago, a line of recreational vehicles belonging to Winnebago Industries.
- Photoshop, Adobe Systems Inc.'s trademarked graphics editing software program.
- Cuisinart, food-processing appliances that are trademarked by Conair Corp.
- Formica, a brand of composite materials from Formica Corp./Fletcher Building.
- Lysol, a brand of disinfectant cleaners owned by Reckitt Benckiser.
- Sharpie, a brand of markers with a trademark held by Newell Rubbermaid.
- Zip-Loc, S.C Johnson & Sons' trademarked brand of zipper storage bags.
- Skype, an internet-based method of making phone calls that belong to Skype.
- Cigarette Boat, a Cigarette Racing's brand of boats that are also referred to as “rum-runner” or “go-fast” boats.
- Dramamine, a type of motion-sickness medication trademarked by Prestige Brands.
- Google, a Google-owned term that is commonly used as a verb to refer to the act of performing a search on the internet.
- Jet Ski, a brand of personal watercraft from Kawasaki Heavy Industries.
- Armor-All, Armored AutoGroup's brand of car care products.
- Advil, a brand of Ibuprofen-based pain relief belonging to Pfizer.
- Memory Stick, a portable digital storage device from Sony Corp.
- Dust Buster, a Black and Decker portable vacuum cleaner that is considered a generic brand in some countries.
- Matchbox Cars, a brand of die-cast toy cars that belongs to Mattel.
- Word, a trademarked word processing software program from Microsoft Corp.
- Jacuzzi, a brand of whirlpool bathtubs and spas that is owned by Jacuzzi.
- Jeep, a long-running line of off-road vehicles from Chrysler.
- Muzak, a brand of background music belonging to Muzak Holding LLC.
- Excel, a spreadsheet software program that is trademarked by Microsoft Corp.
- Bengay, Johnson & Johnson's heat rub that can help relieve body pain.
- FedEx, a brand that is owned by FedEx Corp. and commonly used as a term to refer to fast delivery of packages.
- Bisquick, a trademarked pre-mixed product from General Mills that is used to bake biscuits, pancakes, and other baked goods.
- Groupon, a local deals online service that is trademarked by Groupon.
- Coke, Coca-Cola Corp.'s world-famous carbonated beverage.
- Head & Shoulders, an anti-dandruff shampoo that belongs to Procter & Gamble.
- Levi's, a brand of denim from Levi Strauss & Co.
- Mack Truck, a line of trucks from Renault Vehicules Industriels.
- Zipcar, a Zipcar-owned membership-based car-sharing service.
- Polaroid, a term owned by Polaroid Corp. that is often used to refer to an instant photograph.
- Pepto Bismol, a bismuth subsalicylate-based drug from Procter and Gamble that is used for treating diarrhea and indigestion.
- Tums, a brand of tablet-form medication for heartburn that is trademarked by SmithKline Beecham Corp.
- Tylenol, a brand of acetaminophen-based pain relief from McNeil Consumer Healthcare, a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary.
- Xerox, a term trademarked by Xerox Corp. that is often used to refer to an electronic copy of a document or image.
- Walkman, a Sony-owned portable music device.
- Vespa, a brand of scooter belonging to Italian company Piaggio.
- Krazy Glue, a powerful glue from Elmer's.
- Roto-Rooter, an in-person plumbing service provided by Roto-Rooter Group, Inc.
- Zamboni, a truck-like vehicle from Frank J. Zamboni & Co. Inc. that is used to resurface ice.
- X-Acto Knife, a precision knife that belongs to Elmer's.
- Shredded Wheat, a Kraft-owned brand of whole wheat cereal that became generic in 1938.
- California Stir Fry, a bag of vegetables that is trademarked by Mann Packing Company.
- Broccolini, a trademarked cross between broccoli and kai-lan from Mann Packing Company.
The Most Ridiculous Trademark Attempts Ever
Because trademarks are so valuable, it's common for people to apply for a trademark in an effort to build their brand. However, since there are very specific requirements for registering a trademark, there have been several ridiculous attempts to register a trademark that had no shot at approval.
Snooki, one of the stars of the MTV show Jersey Shore, once tried to trademark her nickname. Unfortunately for her, the claim was rejected by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Likelihood of confusion was the reason given for the rejection, as there was already a cartoon cat named Snooky that had been given a trademark.
Another infamously failed trademark was applied for by New England Patriots football team. In 2008, they won every game in the regular season and were poised to win the Super Bowl, which would have resulted in a perfect 19-0 season. Sensing a chance to build their brand, the Patriots attempted to trademark “19-0.” However, the Patriots lost the Super Bowl to the New York Giants, making their season record 18-1, completely defeating the purpose of their trademark.
The smiley face is one of the most recognizable symbols in the world, in part thanks to its use in Wal-Mart advertising campaigns. In 2006, Wal-Mart attempted to trademark the smiley face, despite the fact that the symbol has existed since the 1970s. Wal-Mart was so insistent that they owned the smiley face that they once sued an artist for parodying the mark. Eventually, the case went to the courts, where it was determined that the smiley face was a part of the public domain.
Most Valuable Brands in the World
A company's brand can be a large part of its total value, and some of the top brands in the world are valued at billions of dollars.
For instance, Honda, a world-famous car manufacturer, has a brand value of 18.5 billion dollars. One of the reasons Honda's brand is so successful is that they are committed to customer satisfaction. According to one report, Honda has one of the highest customer retention rates of any automobile manufacturer.
Amazon is another of the world's most valuable brands, with a brand value of $23.6 billion. This company is always looking for ways to increase its brand value, including acquiring Goodreads, a website focused on providing book recommendations. By purchasing Goodreads, Amazon was able to make its customers feel like they were a part of a community without worrying about a loss of privacy.
If you want to learn more about the most famous trademarks, you can post your legal needs on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.