In the UK (and sometimes Australia), a vacuum cleaner will be called a hoover, regardless of its brand. Likewise, the verb "to vacuum" is replaced with "to hoover".

With a brand name being used in such a way, does it still require a capital letter? Why or why not? Does its capitalisation depend on region?

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    It's really a legal matter, not a linguistic one. The same can be said for xerox or aspirin, for example. In all these cases, popular adoption of a trademark as a generic term is something companies tried to avoid, but failed (except in the case of Aspirin, which is generic in the USA but not in Canada, where it's still a Bayer trademark). Nevertheless, lawyers may be deployed by the Hoover company, if it still exists. – John Lawler Apr 28 '15 at 22:01
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    It should be said that the generic use of "hoover" is, while not unknown, fairly rare in most parts of the US. In fact I've only heard "hoover" used as a verb once that I can recall (and that was in the movie Rancho Deluxe). – Hot Licks Apr 28 '15 at 22:06
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    @John Lawler - How would lawyers deal with colloquial usage and why? A company should be happy if their brand is converted into a generic name by people, should they not? – alx Apr 28 '15 at 22:21
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    @javaNoobs - Tell that to Bayer, who used to own the "Aspirin" brand in the US. – Hot Licks Apr 28 '15 at 22:31
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    @Hot Licks - I see. This is a different case, they probably wanted to force people to adopt 'Bayer' instead of 'Aspirin' and treated the term as their step child. But legal issue is only possible if I publish a text or produce a movie with 'Aspirin' used in it. If you call it 'aspirin' at home, no one cares, I guess. – alx Apr 28 '15 at 22:36

Verbed brands

No, verbs are almost never capitalized (see Edwin Ashworth's comment for the rare cases when they are). I suggest a good article on verbing brand names on The Economist:

So to google became to search on the web, to facebook meant to look up or contact someone on Facebook, and to skype covers calling someone by VoIP telephony.

Among photographers, meanwhile, to photoshop is common currency for what you do to an image after you've snapped it

'Genericided' brands

As Edwin Ashworth pointed out, I missed the first part of the question about noun capitalization.

Normally, if a brand noun is used as a generic noun, it is not capitalized, but many companies insist on capitalization, to prevent a process called genericide which is described in a very interesting article:

"Are You Guilty of Genericide?" on Daily Writing Tips. The article deals with capitalization issue, and the point is:

  • brand owners insist on capitalization but fail to achieve this
  • people tend not to capitalize and this trend wins

It is disputable whether capitalization is a mistake or not. While brand owners object genericidal effect, dictionaries accept brands as generic nouns.

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  • That's actually a really interesting source. I might have to stop capitalising Google when I say Why don't you Google it? – Dog Lover Apr 28 '15 at 22:29
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    @WindowsDude7 - that's right, although spellcheckers will try to force you to capitalize – alx Apr 28 '15 at 22:30
  • Like Google Chrome did to me whilst writing the comment. – Dog Lover Apr 28 '15 at 22:32
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    OP asks about the noun, not just the verb. And 'verbs are never capitalized' is not true: Christianize or Christianise: verb (transitive) to make Christian or convert to Christianity/ to imbue with Christian principles, spirit, or outlook [Collins; also Wiktionary; YourDictionary; Webster/WordNet ...]. Also Judaise, Islamise. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 28 '15 at 22:54

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