The Inventive Tale Behind Velcro: A Trademarked Hook and Loop Marvel

Bredenkamp IP Blog, Patent Registrations, Trademark Registrations

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In the realm of patents and trademarks, there are inventions that not only revolutionise our daily lives but also become synonymous with their purpose. US2717437A, the cornerstone of the Velcro fastener system, is a prime example of such innovation. Beyond its utility, the journey of Velcro showcases not only human ingenuity but also the transformation of a brand name into a common term.

The Birth of Velcro

In the early 1940s, Swiss engineer George de Mestral embarked on a simple hiking trip with his dog. After returning from their outdoor adventure, he noticed that burdock burrs had clung to his clothes and his dog’s fur. This observation sparked his curiosity and set him on a path of discovery.

De Mestral examined the burrs under a microscope and found that they had tiny hooks that caught on the loops of fabric, hair, and even animal fur. Intrigued by this natural mechanism, he set out to replicate it in a practical and usable form.

The Inventive Journey

Over the course of several years, de Mestral dedicated himself to refining and perfecting the hook-and-loop mechanism he had stumbled upon. His journey was marked by challenges, as he sought suitable materials that could retain their effectiveness over time. After numerous iterations, he settled on nylon as the ideal material for crafting the hooks and loops.

De Mestral’s “Eureka” moment arrived when he unlocked the potential of nylon, skilfully transforming it into a durable and flexible medium for the hook and loop fastener. With this breakthrough, he christened his creation “Velcro,” a portmanteau of the French words “velours” (velvet) and “crochet” (hook).

Trademarking Velcro: Pioneering a New Brandvelcro

De Mestral’s inventive hook-and-loop fastener not only received a patent but also heralded the birth of a new brand. Velcro Industries successfully trademarked the name, solidifying its unique identity in the market. This move was pivotal in protecting the innovation and establishing a brand that would last a lifetime.

As Velcro’s popularity grew, something interesting happened: the brand name itself became a common term. In a linguistic phenomenon known as “genericide,” the brand name Velcro began to be used generically to refer to any hook and loop fastener, regardless of its actual brand. This transformation speaks to the sheer ubiquity and impact of Velcro on society.

Velcro: Making One Small Step Possible

In its most impressive application, Velcro formed part of Neil Armstrong’s spacesuit when he travelled to the moon in 1969!

Velcro: A Part of the Family

The journey from the hiking trip to a patented invention was not without its challenges. De Mestral faced scepticism and difficulties in convincing manufacturers to adopt his invention. However, his persistence paid off. By the 1960s, Velcro fasteners gained popularity in various industries, from clothing and footwear to aerospace and medicine.

The narrative behind Patent US2717437A, the cornerstone of Velcro, epitomises the spirit of innovation that propels human advancement. It illustrates the incredible journey from a casual hiking trip to a patented marvel that has left an indelible mark on our lives. Moreover, Velcro’s evolution from a brand name to a colloquial term emphasises the potent impact of trademarks on our collective consciousness.

As we affix our shoes, secure our belongings, and encounter Velcro in myriad applications, we’re reminded of the remarkable voyage that transformed a simple idea into a patent and a trademark that have both revolutionised our interactions with the world and left an enduring legacy on language and culture.

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