If you’ve trundled around the internet for as long as we have, you may have come across a 1990 store poster from Nintendo, correcting its users on how to use the word "Nintendo".
While this ad may come across as Mario lecturing your grandmother with a lesson in grammar, when this image first hit the internets it was just passed off as Nintendo’s usual pomposity; a company arrogantly telling its fan base what they can and can’t do.
it does however, have a rather more personal reason for existing.
Now, one might think, “Surely calling everything “Nintendo” would be highly beneficial for the Big N? It’s free advertising and muscles out the competition”. And, yes, while it would more profitable to blitz out rival products, in the world of trademark law, it’s quite literally the worst possible thing that can happen to a company.
You see, to receive a trademark for your product, service or company, it has to be a highly specific word, or words to describe it. For instance, you could never trademark the term “video game” as it’s not only an incredibly broad term to begin with, but it’s also part of the public lexicon; a phrase that everyone uses to describe the medium.
This all stems from the 1946 US Fritz G. Lanham Trademark Act, where section 15 contains the clause:
(4) no incontestable right shall be acquired in a mark which is the generic name for the goods or services or a portion thereof, for which it is registered.
Which in other words means, as long as your trademark is unique, and remains unique, you’re golden!
However, unfortunately for businesses, the English language is one that constantly evolves and expands. Even in the past twenty years, multiple product names have become part of the lexicon. When you use a vacuum cleaner, do you call it a "Hoover"? Do you use "Cello-tape" or "sticky tape"? How often have you looked at an image you suspect is fake online and said “That Looks Photoshopped”, or when asking to search for information, to “Google it”?
And like Nintendo, both Adobe and Google have made public requests asking their users to alter their phrasing, fearing the same loss.
So, when a Trademarked word does become part of the public lexicon, it’s then regarded as being “Genericized”; in other words, an adjective becomes a noun. And when that happens, its usage can be legally challenged by anyone.
For example, as recently as 2019, Apple lost the rights to trademark the term “App” and “App Store” after being challenged by Amazon in court so they could use the phrases on their range of tablets.
Even huge brands such as Coca-Cola are currently on shaky ground to lose their trademark of Coke, as a huge majority of people will request "Coke" at a restaurant, even though they’re asking for any cola drink, not specifically Coca Cola’s. It’s something the lexicon has evolved into describing the beverage, no matter how many times your waiter responds: “…Will Pepsi do?”.
So, with such a trademark potentially falling into the public domain back then, Sega could have legally called their console: The "Nintendo Saturn", or Sony could have called their console: The Nintendo Play Station (Well… Yeah) but, you get the point.
However, from suing everyone from Blockbuster from renting their titles, to companies that produced their own cartridges… losing the trademark to “Nintendo” is what the company literally feared the most from their market dominance back in 1990.
Long story short, if you don’t want everything in gaming to be branded as “Nintendo” in the future, whether the company made it or not. Next time your Gran asks if you’re playing as Halo on one of your Nintendo, be sure to correct her adjectives (or encourage her if you’re a rather vindictive Sony or Xbox fan!)
Well, back in those days, we did in fact play the Nintendo, instead of the NES or SNES. And since those acronyms literally have the word Nintendo in it, you can hardly fault us. I think by the time the GC hit, it was no longer a Nintendo.
Considering that Nintendo arguably undid the gaming crash in the 80s, I too would have hated for Atari products to be referred to as “Nintendos”.
My wife still calls my Series X my Nintendo Xbox. On the other hand my mum used to call everything a gameboy.
Very interesting article; never thought about it in this way. Always seemed like good publicity/free marketing to me I admit.
"Are you playing the Nintendo again?" My mother, every evening in 2001
(And she was referring to the PS2)
You know how folk call vacuum cleaners 'hoovers'. Same thing. Been a while since folk called game consoles, Nintendos. They call them Playstations these days. Which to be fair sounds a much better generic term as it does what it says.
Okay, still going to do so tho. My parents and pretty much everyone over 35 in my life doesn't know the difference and I don't care enough to explain lol my kid plays Nintendo (whether it's her Switch or PS4) and that's the end of it
Interesting thing for me, when I called Nintendo and XBOX machines, I always mentioned them with their English name (Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Nintendo Sixty Four, Game cube, Wii, Wii You, Switch or Nintendo Switch, Gameboy Advance, NDS, Three DS, XBOX Classic, XBOX Three Sixty, XBOX One) except PlayStation machines that in Indonesia is PlayStation Land, so I called PlayStation machines (including almost all Indonesia peoples) with P S Satu for PS1, P S Dua for PS2, P S Tiga for PS3, P S Empat for PS4, P S Lima for PS5.
I don't think the use of 'Nintendo' as a generic term for a video game console was ever widespread in the UK. From what I understand, the US industry crash of 1983 didn't happen here and Nintendo never dominated the market like it did in the US after the crash.
Also, I'd disagree that 'Nintendo' is an adjective in cases like 'Nintendo games'. Rather, it is a proper noun that is being used attributively to modify another noun.
I like Nintendo, of course, but they are extremely...unique and have nitpicking "problems" that other companies don't have.
Their explanation that "Nintendo is an adjective, not a noun" is a load of hogwash. We don't go around saying "That was such a Nintendo movie!" or "Dude, she is so Nintendo". Altho it would kinda make sense, and using it the way they describe it would make it become generic anyways.
I guess now's as good a time as any to try out this cool, new n-word pass I just got. Ahem...
N I N T E N D O
Here is a situation when you call all video games names with Nintendo.
Shop assistant: Can I help you ?
Customer : I'm looking for Nintendo.
SA : Oh, what kind of Nintendo machine?
C : The Nintendo machine that have Ratchet & Clank games on it...
SA : But that's PlayStation machine, sir. Only PlayStation machines have Ratchet & Clank games.
C : Oh, really? I have never heard before. Anyway, I remembered my relatives want to play from Nintendo machine with X logo on it...
SA : That's XBOX machine, sir. Every machines have their names, not Nintendo.
C : Why? I supposed everybody called it Nintendo. Why now there is PlayStation or XBOX names? Peoples nowadays are so weird.
SA : ........ 😑
Ok cool anyway I guess I'll get back to playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons on my Nintendo and who knows I might even boot up the old Nintendo and play some Mario Kart Wii
I like how in terminator 2 John Connor plays a sega afterburner machine, then later in the film in the scene where Arnie gets the chaingun he berates the kids his age because they were into Nintendo xxxx
@TheRealKyleHyde You'd disagree that it is an adjective, but that's the issue.
Should the word go the way of Coke or App Store etc. it would mean that, because the English language is such a broken mess, it could be challenged legally as something that people don't use as a noun anymore for it's intended purpose.
But that challenge can only happen in the first place because English is such a hilarious mess that it constantly changes. By using "Nintendo" to refer to a generic swath of things and brands, it can be argued it is a descriptor rather than a noun. A category of sorts.
And then we get into the whole is it an adverb, oroper noun, should copyright law account for x y and z. At least English just gender everything like many other languages.
So basically, it's not about semantic applicability but about trademark maintenance concerns that appear to derive purely from some doofus[es] enabling a lexical criterion to complicate things post factum in the subject legislation.
In the UK I would say relating to Nintendo.
Words like Mario and Mario Kart and Zelda
seem used more than Nintendo.
Also Switch is another.
We are coming round to play Switch
We are coming round to play Mario Kart
Anyway, Nintendo Nintendo Nintendo.
Or, on the other hand, ***** them.
1. If IP law is so terrible that the way people use language can affect companies' trade marks, then the law, as we already know, is a complete ass.
2. I am not inclined to co-operate with Nintendo's highly destructive legal arm. ***** those *****. Seriously.
@TheRealKyleHyde yeah that definitely feels more like a US thing — growing up the broad terminology was "Computer games", even "videogames" always sounded a bit Americanised, to mine ears.
@Anti-Matter If we go around calling all brands of Nintendos Nintendos, then a bunch of shop assistants will say "... 😑" for a few weeks until they're used to it. I'm not really seeing any major problems there.
I had no idea that Larry ever wrote for this site! I just watched this video on YT no less than five minutes ago. Big thumbs up!
I think it's a combination of Nintendo basically being the first big console and games maker after the crash whilst also having the easiest to remember name out of the big three. It's highly unlikely you would call all video games a 'Playstation' or an 'Xbox' since they're very laser-focused into what they are: video game consoles. Nintendo though? That's a word that could very much be a blanket term since it doesn't relate to any one console or brand (apart from Nintendo obviously).
Nintendo was so popular back in the 80' and 90', that every consoles launched in that period was refered as Nintendo, now we refer consoles as PlayStation or just videogame.
"Do you use "Cello-tape" or sticky-tape?"
.... neither. and I've never heard anyone else use those phrases either.
Wait, how long has Guru Larry been writing for Nintendo Life?
An interesting poster that seems a strange way of describing the issue.
To 'google' or 'photoshop' are now accepted verbs and without the capital letter, so at least Nintendo got their way with to 'nintendo!'
Been a gamer for just over 30 years now. Never have I heard anyone generically refer to a non-Nintendo console as a Nintendo.
@Fizza Nope, there always are people who call every console the first brand name they've encountered, simply because they don't need to know the details.
Come on barbie let's go party.
Back then I used to play Nintendo or SEGA--depending on who made the console I was going to play (and in many cases, the game(s) I was going to play on it). These days I often play Switch, Xbox or PlayStation/PS4. Although honestly, I sometimes still say something like "I'm gonna go play some Nintendo" when referring to playing games on Nintendo consoles (most often specifically when intending games by Nintendo themselves). Sometimes I'll say something more specific, like "I'm gonna play some [Mario/Zelda/Metroid/Forza/Pac-Man/etc.].
Either way, it's generally very well understood what I'm talking about, because I often just had a conversation about the game in question--and many people I know that I talk to aren't clueless about video games anymore, like a lot were back in the 90s.
I'm just not convinced that Nintendo is an adjective. Even they use it as a proper noun (otherwise what is a Nintendo Direct?).
The Switch in my house is most definitely referred to as the Nintendo.
Looks like a solution searching for a problem to me.
The use of "Nintendo" there does not entirely contradict the idea to not use "Nintendo" as a badly, for "Nintendo" there does not refer to a concrete noun but an abstract noun, the company itself, seemingly.
Me at the videogames store: "Hello I want one copy of Nintendo please."
they should release a console called "The Nintendo" that plays every game in their back catalog.
Legal departments have definitely made sure everything in out little blue world is as it should be..
The LEGO Group has similar grammatical rules surrounding its products, which many seem to ignore.
This is one I have to agree with, however. To me, “I stepped on some LEGOs” sounds just as off as, “I ate ten sushis“.
That said, I do use ‘LEGO’ as a collective noun, so I suppose I’m not safe from LEGO’s lawyers.
Sorry, the lawyers of the LEGO Group.
This looks like Spam to me 🧐
LBJr writing for Nintendo Life. I love it. Still miss Jon on the video team but happy he's doing good with GVG. Let's get Larry on team Vid!
My parents still call everything “computer” I’m doing “computer” I’m playing on my “computer”
@Maxz finally someone acknowledges this. I’ve been telling my friends for the past twenty years “legos” is not a. Word
Sorry Nintendo - I still sometimes say “playing Nintendo” when playing video games, just like I say “Scotch tape” or “Saran wrap.” They’re just synonymous with the products they sell, and nice linguistic shortcuts for us consumers.
Maybe this naming dropping is one organic way to keep any one company from growing into a monopoly? The home video game market has diversified a lot since the 80s/90s anyway, so Nintendo’s trademark probably isn’t at much risk today. Just appreciate the fan devotion. 😁
Yep, mom used to call everything I played a Nintendo.
@AnnoyingFrenzy It's probably a British thing. I hear people say "Scotch tape" or "Duck tape" pretty often, though. Band-aids instead of bandages is probably the best example they could've used.
@Not_Soos Scotch Tape I've heard plenty of people use, but now you've got me curious. Is it Duck Tape or Duct Tape?
"Martin, make a coconut radio. And if you can, a coconut Nintendo system."
I can't say I'm familiar with the Hoover for vaccumn cleaners example. Though it might be a generational thing. The coke example? I feel like that's something that could go either way. My experience is that people are asking for the actual brand. My family is a family of Pepsi drinkers. So they will specifically ask if a restaurant carries Pepsi.
I am familiar with the usual suspects like Band-Aid, Scotch Tape, Qtip, and of course Xerox (that's especially become apparent having worked in a print shop for the last 9 years). So I can understand why Nintendo had concerns over it. I know my grandmother and/or older family members were guilty of calling out Sega Genesis Nintendo. But I think these days, I'm not sure it's that much of an issue. Maybe still for older folks who have lost complete touch with video gaming past the original Nintendo
It's duct tape. But there is a brand called Duck Tape
@Dragonslacker1 Well, John Conner also owned some kind of Atari laptop computer.
If only they could've worked the TurboGrafx-16 into that movie somehow. (though that console did have a Terminator reference. The shooter Dead Moon, had a T1 title sequence ripoff in the Japanese version which I guess Natsume became a little scared to leave alone and had it removed from the US version.)
@Tipehtfomottob Can remember when I had Japanese classes in high school and the book taught Famicom as the word for video games.
Though the teacher, I'm not sure if a gamer or not, was at least aware that PlayStation had surpassed Nintendo in popularity.
@Rambler haha, so its both! Neat. Thanks for the info.
When I watch science fiction my partner asks me if I'm enjoying the side effects. lol
Reminds me how the WWE despite being named World Wrestling Entertainment has actually banned the usage of the words Wrestler and Wrestling when referring to there product.
Here in Mexico we're more likely to say "coca" instead of soda regardless of flavor or brand, if we don't say coca we'd probably say "refresco", soda isn't used much.
Same thing with "fritos" when referring to potato chips despite the fact there are actual Fritos by Sabritas (Mexican version of Frito Lay).
Thankfully the problem with Nintendo seems to be non-existent these days, even my family called the Nintendo systems by their proper names (yes, they even knew the difference between the Wii and the Wii U).
Nowadays, at least in my area you're more like to hear people say "Nintendo" for everything Nintendo-related, "Playstation" or "Play" for anything PS related and "Xbox" for anything related to that regardless of which model.
How very Nintendo of Nintendo.
Yeah, tell that to my parents...
I don't know about hoover, but did this actually happen to a company name like that before?
Pretty sure Google is still a trademark, for example, even though "google it" is very common.
Other examples, like "App" are not really comparable. It is neither really a name for something specific nor a sonehow important name that would need protection.
Furthermore, "App" is kind of just the natural short form of the word "application".
Also kind of odd that Nintendo called the newest console the "Switch" then.
Switch is already a normal word and, depending to the situation, talking about a "Switch" can be confusing. Talking about the "Nintendo" in my house may be less confusing at the same time.
Also, also, very weird to say that there is no Nintendo as a noun. Of course there is.
There is nothing wrong about calling a Nintendo Switch a "Nintendo" just as you can call it a "Switch".
Caing a PlayStation a "Nintendo" is wrong, but calling an actual Nintendo console that is just normal.
By that logic we need to stop saying things like "look at this car, it is a BMW", even when it is actually a BMW...
My grandparents were like "we got you a Nintendo" and it was Quicken Premier. Made me the man I am today.
(not a true story)
@AnnoyingFrenzy Well, "Duck Tape" is a brand name, but according to Google, that's also what it was first known as before being called "duct tape."
Xerox, linoleum, velcro...trying to prevent language from changing is a fool's errand.
@Kirgo Here is a list of trademarked products that have been genericized and some of them are quite familiar:
I see many reasons why Nintendo and other big companies would get annoyed at this. If you use a brand name like Nintendo or Coke as a broad term for every similar product, then that can easily confuse not only the general public but to retail store employees. It's also potential for wrong companies to be mistakenly accused or sued because of this as I've heard it happen multiple times in the past.
Practically everyone I've known in my life has used the proper names for merchandise most of the time. Soda drinks, entertainment hardware, self-care products, and other things like that. I know plenty of individuals have gone through their lives with people that do this from what I've seen and read on the internet. For me, the only few that I've heard continually name things incorrectly in person were random boomers in stores and restaurants.
During the wii and wiiu’s life I was referring to my consoles as Nintendo as I didn’t like the ring of name. With the switch I’ll occasionally call it by its name but still mostly refer to it as my Nintendo.
seems like companies have been getting more antsy about their trademarks beings used as normal terms. nintendos case seems less severe as a term used more by older people not familiar with the gaming space, rather than a broad term used by everyone. good luck to google and photoshop fixing their problem lol
@Not_Soos @AnnoyingFrenzy I say sellotape when talking about that thin clear tape used for wrapping presents. I barely use it though except for that purpose.
My most used tape is probably packing tape but I just call that tape. I don't use that brown tape either because it's trash, I have like a beige-y coloured one which is a lot stronger. So packing tape is the only tape where I omit the adjective/brand unless I am using another type extensively for a period of time.
I use scotch tape (and call it scotch tape) when bagging and boarding comics. I'm pretty sure that's a brand name.
I call masking tape, masking tape. For er, protecting lines when painting/decorating normally.
I call duct tape, duct tape. Normally use this for quick fixes on the car. Like if my bumper is hanging off or something...
The other thing I call a tape, is a video. Like when I do exercise tapes or yoga tapes. I think that's just a throwback to when those things used to come on video tapes. So if I'm doing some exercise, I might say that I'm doing my tape. I only got a car with a CD player a couple years ago so up until that point I was listening to music on tapes as well!
I also call a vacuum cleaner a hoover too. Probably because of the brand though I've never actually owned a Hoover branded vacuum.
I am British too, for reference.
Lego tried something similar to stop Americans calling the bricks "Legos". That never worked either.
On the app thing that people have discussed.
I seem to remember a time where they were called "programmes" instead. I always used to call them programmes on Windows when I was a kid. It seemed to slowly move toward applications before it got shortened to apps when smartphones became a thing. I was always under the impression that Apple pushed for that branding/terminology because it was part of their company name.
On using the word Nintendo. When talking conversationally, I might refer to any Nintendo handheld up to the DS as a game boy. 3DS, 2DS and Switch, I just call a Nintendo.
As for Xbox and PlayStation, I might use them interchangeably depending on what I'm playing most at the time. Like I might call a PlayStation an Xbox or an Xbox a PlayStation in conversation if it has no real baring on the convo. I'd probably be more specific if I was playing an exclusive game as it would raise some eyebrows if I was playing Uncharted on an Xbox!
Nintendo home consoles, I'd normally just call by their name. I use SNES (said as an acronym) and Super Nintendo interchangeably. I also call an N-E-S a NES (as an acronym)
It's both a combination of ease and also making conversation flow better. I may be more specific when talking to a fellow enthusiast or I may be more vague when the specifics don't really matter.
I remember when the Fine Brothers tried to trademark the word "react." It was a huge scandal, and for weeks, if not months, there were more dislikes on their YouTube videos than there were likes, even when they rescinded their application for the trademark.
I can only imagine what would have happened if they went through with their plan to trademark the word "react." Even if they had no intention of pursuing legal challenges against people who uploaded react videos, YouTube could have still taken them down with their Content ID system, which is itself broken.
That's why we need to revise copyright, patent, and trademark laws to fit with the modern digital age. The DMCA was written in 1998, long before the Internet became what it is today. We need to either repeal and replace the DMCA, or revise it to take into account the modern issues facing content creation on the Internet today.
I still think people calling .exe and .apk apps are a bit crazy, the mac ecosystems call software “applications” and thus uses .app so apps make sense, just as that windows calls it programs which makes no sense at all for their . “executables” 😅
@agrazioli Thanks for the list.
It actually kind of proves my point.
In almost all cases it wasn't the name of the company itself that was hit. Part of the name sometimes, though in these I would argue it is not the most important part.
Just about the only case where a company lost it's own company name trademark seems to be Jacuzzi.
I find this topic fascinating. It's ironic that the ultimate success of your branding team is the worst nightmare of your legal team. It's not new though, as people for hundreds of years I'm sure have referred to a Caravaggio painting as a "Caravaggio." No one thought he was being cloned.
Another irony is that the LSAT itself (the Law School Admissions Test) allows a 1-gallon clear "ziplock" bag with snacks and supplies, etc. They of all people should know better.
And here's a third irony: notice Nintendo employees never just say "Switch" like the rest of us. It's always "Nintendo Switch." I'm guessing that's how the official trademark is registered.
@agrazioli, thank you for that link. The most shocking one to me is not even listed though, which is Dumpster. My jaw hit the floor when I found out that was originally a brand name. @kirgo, that one is old enough to have expired, so I'm not sure if generic usage was a contributing factor.
I think regarding "app", it relates to PC's using .exe as file extensions and Apple computers using .app. But it's still silly for them to try to monopolize that very obvious abbreviation.
As a fun anecdote, my roommate's grandma would always call his handheld game systems "pokeyman." "He's playing his pokey-man."
I also wonder if this is why I always see video game titles in Katakana (usually used for loanwords) in Japan, if since they don't have capital letters, perhaps that signifies a proper noun. As if Japanese doesn't have a word for "final" and "fantasy."
I remember when i was a kid uninformed parents and especially grandparents would call every videogame related thing a Nintendo. It was like Nintendo was the dominant game company and i could be playing my Sega genesis and my mom would yell at supper time, Turn off that Nintendo and eat your dinner!
People are taking this way too seriously. It's just a quaint piece of history. Nintendo don't care about policing how we use their name nowadays, given that the word console (which they promoted themselves) is now universally understood.
(Except by the people who refer to all consoles as "playstations" or "gameboys", of course.)
Remember kids, Nintendo used to be carefree like most of today's internet users about trademarks and IP but after they got threatened with a lawsuit over Donkey Kong, they got scared of losing what they thought is theirs. Which is why they go after literally anything that threatens their trademarks, copyrights and IPs.
Larry is now a writer here? That guy is truly everywhere
I've always said, "I'm going to play Nintendo now", "I enjoy playing Nintendo", "I'm playing Nintendo with my Family/Friends", and "some of my Hobbies are Nintendo"!
Always had and Always Will! Because if it weren't for Nintendo, I wouldn't be into Video Games at all! Nintendo is the reason why I've had a ps3, and ps4 in the past and why I have an Xbox Series S Now!
This makes no flippin’ sense.
They must have been incredibly relieved when they lost the frustrating market dominance that would cause consumers to think like this!
"My friend down the block got a Nintendo" is a sentiment I would hear all too often growing up in the late 80s.
App was just short for application. Not sure how Apple ever had a trademark on that in the first place. Seems Nintendo screwed itself. If they didn't want it to be part of the name they should have marketed it differently. The NES should have been Nintendo's Entertainment System. Which wouldn't work at all on the SNES because Nintendo is the name of the system. They would have needed to name it Nintendo's Super Entertainment System or NSES for short. As often as they do grimey stuff I don't feel bad for them.
Larry Bundy in Nintendo life? woah!
Interesting video and information. Didn't know about the videotape trivia. Interesting.
Just one correction: that poster wasn't for Nintendo users or gamers. It was for people that worked at Nintendo retail zones. It was never meant for general audiences.
And all those Nintendo fans whining here because eeeeviiil Nintendo tries to protect their brand....GROW UP.
Now to blow my nose with a Kleenex while using a fax machine!
@TheRealKyleHyde Yes. A proper noun because it is a name, a word we capitalise. With the example of “google it,” that’s using the word as a verb.
Also lest we forget this egregious example of using Nintendo as a genericized term, 1991’s Hudson Hawk: https://youtu.be/k-5CZn8Wi9I
Its just a poor attempt at a Marketing Exec to be witty. Truth is having your brand become part of the vocabulary is an honor and a blessing, and really cheap and effective advertising. Its pretty much the original meme.
Are ALL trade names yet were and are still used in some places today, although saying "I'm going to go Xerox this" has fallen quite a bit out of favor over the last 30 years.
Larry writes on here?! Thats great
Nintendo I'm gonna nintendo all my nintendos as nintendos.
“Here’s Why Nintendo Doesn’t Want You Using The Word Nintendo”
Well sheesh Nintendo, I know your protective of you IP and all but that’s just ridiculous!
“To Describe Video Games”
@Ryo_Hazuki I would agree. I love Nintendo games and Nintendo consoles but the company itself not so much. I can understand why BUT they’re over zealous IMO compared to other companies.
Hurtz my brain. Make words stop. Time to Nintendo with kids.
This all sounds rather trivial when you know that a company bloody called Sky has won or gotten settlements on multiple lawsuits against other companies or products that included the word "sky" - such as Skykick or, you guessed it, No Man's Sky. Or when a certain terrible YouTube channel tried to trademark the word "React" and the only reason that didn't go through was intense community backlash.
Copyright law is an absolute shcheisse-show.
@LinkSword copyright and trademark are two different things. Escalator was an example I learned in school of losing a trademark. Kleenex (facial tissue) and Coke (or pop as it was where I grew up) definitely battle hard to keep theirs alive.
I don’t blame Nintendo for fighting back, but PlayStation and XBox have also been used in a similar way over time. Gameboy would probably be another one that was abused when I was a kid.
@Silly_G the gaming crash was mostly a thing in the US. Plenty of other markets (ones not so dominated by Atari) did fine.
In the US Nintendo brought another console and managed to gain retailer and consumer confidence. But markets less tied to American game buisness actually kept trucking. The UK and much of Europe kept doing just fine since their gaming scene was largely based on computers. And of course Japan wasn't badly hit by it.
I guess Samsung could soon call their next tablet the "Samsung iPad" then?
Most people I know is calling every tablet they see an "iPad". Regardless of manufacture.
During playstation 1-2 reign era in my country (Greece) we used to say -got my kid a playstation, he plays playstation instead saying playing video games. I think its good for any brand, strange announcement from Nintendo
Trademarks indeed what I thought when I read the headline.
@dres Indeed, a similar problem. Just as all in-ears are called AirPods nowadays.
This was definitely an American thing. Nobody here in the UK ever referred to any games console as a ‘Nintendo’, likely because most kids didn’t really know much about the NES at the time. All we had were Master Systems, Mega Drives and computers like the C64, Spectrum, Amiga and so on. I don’t recall ever using ‘SEGA’ as a noun either, like ‘I’m playing my SEGA’, but maybe other children did.
Hey, we never even used to call them ‘Videogames’. It was ‘Computer Games’ and I still refer to them as that even to this day.
The PlayStation is only one of many different products in Sony's range, as is the Xbox to Microsoft's range. Nintendo really only has one product, a games console and each time they introduce a new console, they rebrand it by giving it a different name, Microsoft and Sony keep the same name, more or less.
This suggests to me that Nintendo tend to keep the name switch for any future consoles. Although the switch has sold a lot of units and is known worldwide, it's still not as well known as the name Nintendo. If someone said to you I'm going out to buy a new Microsoft or a new Sony. You wouldn't straight away know what they were going out to buy. It could be a TV, a computer laptop. It wouldn't automatically be a games console, but if you said I'm going out to buy a new Nintendo you would immediately think games console because they don't have any other products that would come to mind.
Nintendo should keep the name Nintendo in front of the console name switch Nintendo Switch. It hasn't got that many more letters than Microsoft, Xbox etc etc. Or Sony PlayStation 5.
Of of course there's another reason why Nintendo would like to drop the name Nintendo from its games console name, maybe, in the near future we will get mobile phones made by Nintendo so they want to keep the name Nintendo separate from the games console as do Microsoft &Sony.
My parents would disagree. They've always called my current game system at the time as a kid the Nintendo. Get your Nintendo. Don't forget your Nintendo. My son just loves his Nintendo. Bring your Nintendo to grandmas. Don't forget to feed the Nintendo before you leave.
I wish I had a copy of this poster. I hate imprecise language and it always annoys me when people roll all game systems (or anything really) into a name they find most familiar. Definitions and accurate language matter.
@Kirgo Did it happen before? Yes, many times throughout modern history. Escalator is probably the most famous example that transcends international cultures. https://www.consumerreports.org/consumerist/15-product-trademarks-that-have-become-victims-of-genericization/#:~:text=Aspirin%3A%20Formally%20known%20as%20acetylsalicylic,German%20name%20for%20salicylic%20acid.
@boxyguy Large companies have ALWAYS been careful about possibly losing their trademarks. This is nothing new. I learnt this stuff over two decades ago.
@GravyThief It also applied in Southeast Asia in the 90s (looking at the ad, produced in 1990 - the time period matches with the time Nintendo was widely used to describe videogames).
Nintendo largely doesn't have this problem anymore (though my wife still calls my Switch 'the Wii'). Sony and Microsoft are the ones with greater concerns in this area I think.
@zool Product name branding can be a funny thing - but the official names for the three companies products are different. Nintendo is the only one to put their company name there. Possibly to reinforce that it's a Nintendo product and possibly to help differentiate from the Wii and Wii U era
I was among those that referred to all games as "Nintendo" back in the day. But then again, there was really only one alternative, Sega, which was used maybe 25% of the time.
Also, "Nintendo is an adjective, not a noun".......? I'm not sure those words mean what the authors thought they mean...
Also some of the other words I'm hearing are becoming generic here and the rate at which it's happening makes me weep. We've entered an era were people can't even distinguish a specific item for the concept of the item. Generic trademarks have always happened but not so much so fast. It's like the modern world doesn't even bother pretending to think about anything placed in front of them, they just absorb it as-is.
@AnnoyingFrenzy Duct Tape. I used to think it was duck tape for the longest time.
My point was, that companies don't often seem to lose the trademark on their own company name like that.
Escalator doesn't seem to be an example of that happening either.
As I mentioned in another post, just about the only case of that happening I now know of, would be Jacuzzi.
@Kirgo There are many cases throughout history (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_generic_and_genericized_trademarks), I've already shown you the escalator example where a company lost the trademark over the name.
It's not common largely because of what companies like Nintendo do to protect their trademark. They take it very seriously because the consequences are irreversible (As in the brand value of the trademark becomes pretty much zero)
I've seen almost identical messaging over the years from other companies for products like Rollerblade (They used to put out terse messaging in ads during the 90s telling everyone to stop using Rollerblading as a verb) and Xerox
Edit: To be fair, unless you've studied or are studying marketing/business, you're unlikely to know when companies lose a trademark - simply because it's used so often as part of regular speech. I mean, when I did marketing I was surprised to learn of words that used to be registered trademarks. Funny you should mention Jacuzzi though as that's still an active trademark - thanks largely to Jacuzzi's efforts to get everyone to use the term hot tub instead of Jacuzzi.
"So, with such a trademark potentially falling into the public domain back then, Sega could have legally called their console: The "Nintendo Saturn", or Sony could have called their console: The Nintendo Play Station"
I think that's actually backwards. The generic use case would probably be more like the "Sega Nintendo" or "Sony Nintendo System," or something along those lines. Putting "Nintendo" first would not be generic, it would still specify the manufacturer as being Nintendo.
@NEStalgia Trademarks literally are adjectives. Just look up "are trademarks adjectives" to see why.
@BAN That's safest use, not case law.
And when the trademark is also the name of the business, that no longer applies. It's not Nintendo Brand Video Game Company, Inc., it's Nintendo of America. And in the US a business is a person. BAN isn't an adjective, it's your "name", it's not BAN brand human.
@Tipehtfomottob Same, after we had switched to Playstation in our household, my parents would just say "games" or "game thing"
https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1991-06-14-sp-590-story.html Rollerblade with a similar sentiment - in 1991. Just one year after Nintendo's own messaging highlighted in this article
Using Nintendo as a noun? That's a paddlin'.
@NEStalgia Literally just pointing out the fact that trademarks are considered adjectives so your statement was incorrect. And that IS how the law regards them. And no, company names aren't necessarily part of the conversation on trademarks. You can register your company as any name you want, regardless of whether that name matches or represents a given trademarked brand operated by your company.
@BAN That's sort of a generic application in itself though. The adjective discourse is inapplicable.
Take for example Wii (or Switch if you prefer.)
Wii, as a brand name is also the product's name. People didn't buy a "Wii gaming console", people bought a Wii. It's the name of the video game console, naturally a noun, not an adjective.
At best, it was a Nintendo Wii (in which case Nintendo is used as an adjective, even though Nintendo is also a noun as the name of the company.) But in that adjective case the trandemark "Nintendo" modified the noun "Wii". You can't modify an adjective with another adjective without a subject noun.
Scotch tape, Kleenex, Q-tip, Sticky, Asprin, Advil, Tylenol, Jacuzzi, Zip-Lock, Garmin, Google, Coke, Cheetos, Mr Noodles. (Some will depend where you live)
Sure there's a legal side of things I'll never understand. But when you get so big your brand is used to describe a product, doesn't that mean you made it? Probably a good thing? Decent at least.
Do not take the name of Nintendo in vain.
@Tott think only one of the items on your list is a confirmed case of genericization - aspirin. Getting that big is a double-edged sword - simply because your brand is being used to describe products from OTHER brands.
Lose the trademark and it becomes worthless to your brand.
@Electrichead64 "Truth is having your brand become part of the vocabulary is an honor and a blessing," I kinda get what you mean but losing a trademark is a very serious thing for a business. Intriguingly, you mentioned three and said they were all trade names - one of them is no longer a valid trademark because it's become part of the vocabulary - aspirin
Fact is Bayer losing "aspirin" copyright had NOTHING to do with it being part of the common vocabulary. Nice try.
Although I do like the spirit of that idea. That would be case of true democracy in action. The people decided without even using elected representatives, that aspirin belonged to the people.
Unfortunately the law doesn't work that way. Now, if a COMPANY started using the word Nintendo without it being challenged, then it would be possible for it to be legally challenged in court. Theres no case if the people just made it part of their vocabulary. That happens a lot in slang today. Who would bring the case?
The government certainly cannot make the people cease using a word like that.
It is as I stated. A ridiculous marketing ploy, and they can't possibly be serious. Its cute, but lame at the same time.
Everyone will always refer to the original Nintendo as 'the Nintendo.' I have heard a few moms refer to video games generically as 'a Nintendo' or 'a SEGA,' but it's uncommon.
What is far more egregious is calling the Wii or Wii U the 'Nintendo Wii' or 'Nintendo Wii U.'
This isn't a comment, it's a Nintendo.
@Electrichead64 You can't possibly be serious with all this. It's fairly basic marketing 101 stuff.
Nice attempt at a bluff. Maybe you only took entry level marketing classes, maybe you took none. I'm guessing the latter. Fact is everything I said was 100% accurate. Besides this is a business law argument, not marketing. Marketing LOVES to have the company and the product embedded firmly in the customer's mind. That's what they do! Do you think the legal department writes ads?
I can see that, you really don’t like your name.
I suggest that a new name be given.
“GoYen” (The Lucky Star Coin)
Something Else that you would prefer.
I am just handing you in the New Name options.
Electrichead64 😂 Go ahead and think that. I've been doing communications, marketing and branding for a bit longer than a day.
It's a fact that every big company wants their trademarks to be used correctly. Your comments here already show you have no understanding of it and the concept of genericide.
Tap here to load 135 comments
Leave A Comment
Hold on there, you need to login to post a comment...