By definition, generic products are products that have no brand name and do not infringe upon any registered trademark, trade dress, copyright, or any other facet of a company’s intellectual property rights.
Trademarks are the obvious designation that gives a product a brand. “TurboSquid” is itself a trademark, as are marks like “Ford”, “General Motors”, and “Caterpillar”. No trademark at all is allowed in a generic product, unless it is a fictional trademark. Said another way, you can make up your own trademark for these purposes as long as it is unique and doesn’t infringe. Microsoft has historically used “Contoso” as a fictional mark for their demos.
Trade dress refers to visual characteristics of a product, its packaging, and/or its design — the way it is “dressed up” for sale. This means that simply removing logos and brand references from a branded model may not be enough to accurately call a product generic. See more examples of trade dress.
It is absolutely essential that the following requirements are met to call a product generic:
- Only generic product designs are used in both the texture files and in the geometry. Do not use anything similar to any existing trademark, especially something that looks similar and rhymes. Some examples: “FredEx” instead of “FedEx”, or “BAT” instead of “CAT”.
- No protected intellectual property references in the model itself, such as in layers or textures. If your product claims to be a generic car, but has the word “Ford” within the product file itself, this will instantly disqualify your product for generic status.
These rules must be followed. If they are not, TurboSquid may disqualify you from ever selling a generic version of a given type of product, or ever selling any generic products at all on TurboSquid. We take this very seriously, and so should you.
A few basic suggestions for building a generic product are:
- Build the generic version first. If you plan to create an editorial product representing a real world product similar to your generic product, build the real world product AFTER you create the successful generic. This will avoid errors like referencing a real world product within your product file.
- Start with reference imagery from 3-4 different types of products and make sure that you are not copying the contours, surface, and identifying characteristics of one specific product. Your end result should show obvious and undeniable differences from any one of the individual inspiration objects.
- Research the trade dress for those products and make sure that you are not incorporating any protected designs into your generic product.
Consider referencing stock photo sites and search for “editorial use only” generic versions of products. This may provide insight into what types of design details are removed to create a generic version of a product. Please note that 1) stock photos may not be copied, and 2) just because another site allows something to be designated as generic, that does not mean it is legally safe or accurate.
TurboSquid wants to ensure that you continue to create and publish great content. Unfortunately, we cannot advise you on specific details as to whether something is truly generic; that must be your responsibility. As we learn more and can answer questions and clarify issues, we will update this policy to keep you informed. Our goal is to help you to publish smartly and within a solid legal framework for everyone that participates in the marketplace.