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Apple is actually pretty good at this,” says Litman, the law school professor. “It’s able to skate pretty close to the generics line while making it very clear the name is a trademark of the Apple version of this general category.”

When the iPad debuted in 2010, some people offered up “Apple Tablet” or the “iTab” as better names. Others even suggested that the name sounded more like a feminine hygiene product than a tablet: “Get ready for Maxi pad jokes and lots of ‘em!” wrote tech site Gizmo at the time.

Two years later, those complaints are all but forgotten.

“At the end of the day, the product was so successful that even if it wasn’t the ‘quote unquote’ best name, it made the name synonymous with the category,” says Allen Adamson, managing director at branding firm Landor.