Stop calling it Velcro. At least, that’s what the lawyers behind VELCRO® brand — yep, the sticky stuff that replaces laces on shoes and keeps wallets theft-proof — want us to do. They insist in a dramatic new music video that unless it’s officially a product of the Velcro Companies, we’re supposed to call the stuff “hook and loop.”
“We’re a company that’s so successful that everywhere you go, you see the scratchy, hairy fastener, and you say ‘Hey, that’s Velcro,'” the song begins. “But even though we invented this stuff, our patent lapsed forty years ago. Now no matter who else makes it, you still wanna call it Velcro… You think it’s awesome for us, we’re famous. But we’re lawyers and it’s causing us grief. ‘Cause there are trademark laws being broken. It’s all here in this short legal brief.”
The brand’s website further elucidates that using “velcro” as a noun or a verb is the main problem. “You diminish the importance of our brand and us lawyers would lose our *insert unfastening sound,* the company site explains. They’re admittedly fighting an uphill battle: the generic term “hook-and-loop” is, as they are so keenly aware, not as catchy as Velcro.
The name “Velcro” comes from the French words for velvet (“velour”) and hook (“crochet”), and was coined by the Swiss inventor of the hook-and-loop fastener, George de Mestral according to Biography.com, who patented the fastening fabrics in 1955 and registered for a trademark the following year. Looks like this is an example of a brand becoming too successful for its own good over the ensuing six decades.