FDIC News, which is published by the men and women who work for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., carries an interesting challenge in its current issue.
It lists $2 familiar names and asks: Which are registered trademarks?
Would you like to try your hand at the game? Here's the list:
Band-Aid. Formica. Linoleum. Nylon. Xerox. Disposall. Scotch (as in tape, not booze). Escalator. Dacron. Naugahyde.Styrofoam. Aspirin. Kitty Litter. Pablum. Mylar. Ping-Pong. Bentonite. Lucite. Banlon. Kleenex. Teletype. Cellophane.
Which are registered trademarks?
There should be little doubt in your mind about most of these names, but a few are tricky. Before you read on for the answers given by FDIC News, write down your own answers, and then compare yours and theirs.
Here are the answers given by the magazine:
All the names listed are registered trademarks except these six: linoleum, nylon, escalator, aspirin, bentonite and cellophane. Cellophane, nylon and escalator used to be trademarks, but after many years of use and misuse have become generic trems.
I would have been willing to bet that nylon is still a valid trademark, but I'd have lost. Kitty Litter was misused here just a few days ago when I said it is effective on snow and ice, but failed to capitalize it, as one should when writing about a trademark.
Ping-Pong wouldn't have fooled me because I remember that when table tennis helped re-establish diplomatic communication between Red China and the United States, we were reminded that Ping-Pong must be capitalized. Teletype is something you'd expect a newspaperman to recognize as a trademark, just as Linotype is.
Be honest now; how many did you miss? I missed two - nylon and bentonite.
Bentonite sounded like a made-up name for a man-made material. The dictionary says it's a kind of soil.
So you may now add one more entry to the list of things I don't know anything about: soil. The only time I get a good score is when I'm asked the right questions.
It has been noted here in recent days that when a motorist turns on his headlights on a gloomy day, he usually needs a reminder to turn them off again. If it is still daylight when the car is parked, its lights are likely to remain on until the battery dies.
Charles A. Whitmer of Alexandria says, "Some time ago I picked up an idea from a source I cannot recall. It is a simple device that can be made from materials readily at hand.
"A chain loop, such as is used to hold keys, is looped through one 'handle' of a pinch clamp of the type used in offices to hold together a sheaf of papers. This device is hung over the light switch of the car.
"When the lights are turned on, the gadget is removed and clamped onto the ignition key. WHen the operator parks the car and removes the key, the gadget clamped to the key reminds him, or her, to turn off the lights. It works. It has saved my battery several stimes. P.S.: I wonder if I picked up this idea from your column in the first place."
Possibly you did, Charles. Readers send me more good advice than I can remember. Some of it is quite perceptive.
For example, Mat Thorp of The Washington Monitor points out that it is a simple matter for auto manufacturers to design electrical circuits that cut off headlights either as soon as the ignition key is removed or a few seconds later. So one must wonder: If it is so easy to do, and if the need for it has existed for so long, how come every car offered for sale doesn't have it? Why isn't it part of every auto's standard equipment, just as horns, windshield wipers and spare tires are?
One might just as well ask: Why does the builder of a three-bedroom house equip it with a 30-gallon water heater instead of with a heater large enought to be adequate for the needs of a three-bedroom family?
To increase his profit by one-fiftieth of 1 percent of the selling price of the house, the builder causes the buyer's family endless annoyance and eventually a substantial plumbing bill.
Television manufacturers save pennies by not building an earphone jack into every receiver. But if hubby wants to read while his wife watches TV, he must pay an electronics shop $25 to add a 75-cent earphone jack.
I know, because I just paid it.
The list is endless. And so, apparently, is the patience of consumers.