There was a question on a German mailing list recently about translating Klettband, and someone mentioned that Velcro is a mark and it might be safer to say hook-and-pile fastener or Velcro-type fastener, to avoid the risk of threatened lawsuits by the manufacturer protecting its property. At the very least, the translator should warn the client.
I was reminded of Mark Israel’s FAQ from the UseNet group alt.usage.english, which is a source of all kinds of useful information. Here is the beginning of his list of ‘trademarks, although people use them generically’:
‘Adrenalin (the generic words are “adrenaline” and “epinephrine”),
AstroTurf, Autoharp, BVDs, Baggies, Bakelite, Band-Aid, Beer Nuts,
Benzedrine, Biro, Boogie Board, Breathalyzer, Brillo Pads, Caplet,
Carborundum, Chap Stick, Chemical Mace, Chiclets, Cinerama,
Coca-Cola/Coke, Colorization ? (process of adding colour to
black-and-white footage), Cuisinart, Dacron, Day-Glo, Deepfreeze,
Demerol, Dianetics, Dictaphone, Dictograph, Ditto machine, Dixie
cups, Dolby, Dow Jones Average, Dry Ice ? , Dumpster, Dvorak
Keyboard, Erector Set, Eskimo Pie, Ethernet, Exercycle, Fiberglas,
Fig Newtons, Formica, Freon, Frigidaire, Frisbee, Grand Marnier,
Green Stamp, Hacky Sack, Hammond organ, Hide-a-Bed, Hi-Liter,
Hoover, Hula-Hoop …’
I must say, I can’t imagine using Dianetics generically. Will have to work on that one.