‘Xerox is not another word for copy,’ Fuji Xerox tells Filipinos, existing ‘xerox’ shops, netizens beg to differ

<I>Photo: Fuji Xerox/FB</I>
Photo: Fuji Xerox/FB

It’s no secret that Filipinos have a notorious habit of subbing brand names in place of common nouns i.e. “Colgate” for toothpaste, “Pampers” for baby diapers, and “Coke” for light sodas.

Sometimes, however, those massively popular brands take note, particularly when it’s not just individuals but businesses using the name incorrectly — and then they can get a little annoyed.

Case in point: Japanese brand Fuji Xerox, which ran an ad in the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s classified section yesterday pleading with the Filipino world at large.

“Notice: XEROX. It’s not just another word for copy. XEROX is a registered trademark protected by law,” the ad reads.

“XEROX is also not a verb or common noun and should therefore not be used to describe copying or copy services in general. So please don’t use the word ‘XEROX’ as another word for ‘copy’.”


Screenshot of the ad in the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s classifieds section on Sept. 19 / Photo: Inquirer Press Reader


Close-up view of the ad. Photo: ABS-CBN

Here’s the thing. Filipinos do use the term “Xerox” in place of “copying.” A lot. And more problematic for the people who own the Xerox brand name, it’s used at print shops all over town, whether they actually use Xerox copiers or not.

Fuji Xerox HQ has yet to return any of Coconuts Manila‘s many phone calls today, but a quick scan of copy shops around the city found plenty using makeshift “Xerox” signs to advertise their business. Check these out:

Copy shop in Fairview. Photo: Google Maps
Copy shop in Antipolo. Photo: Google Maps
Copy shop in Quezon City. Photo: Google Maps

Over the phone, Jomar Acosta from Midmarketing School and Supplies store told Coconuts Manila, “Yes, we use a Xerox machine, the brand is Gestetner, but before that we used Kyocera.”

Thing is, even when they were using the Kyocera, the sign out front said, you guessed it … Xerox.

Acosta explained in Filipino: “It’s just easier. When you say ‘Xerox,’ people understand immediately what that is. Most of our patrons are students, so when they want something photocopied, they say we’d like this Xeroxed.”

A quick call to three other copy services shops found they were using Brothers, Epsons, Canons, and Kyoceras — all of which they referred to as their “Xerox machines.”

Filipinos, meanwhile, were quick to respond to Xerox’s plea on Facebook and Twitter, with mixed results.

@DoveenMark said that Philippine “English’s morpho-lexical features are very dynamic. This is a good example of its coinage. It’s hard to change it. As it’s already ‘fossilized’ [in our language].”

@kapekaya added, “My mind is saying so, but may tongue [sic] says #XEROX. Force of habit.”

On Facebook, typical wise-cracking comments like this one from  Raymond Roque read, “Ok, xerox that.”

Photo: Raymond Roque/FB

While Normandi Ardon was quick to sniff “the Xerox Company needed the sales boost from this publicity stunt. Advertisement masked by education.”

Photo: Normandi Ardon / FB

The Merriam-Webster dictionary  actually seems to back up @DoveenMark’s take, allowing the use of the word “xerox” (in lower case) to mean “photocopy.” As in, “I’ll xerox these forms for you.” and “I’ll be xeroxing in the library.” If the word is spelled with a capital “X” like “Xerox,” that’s considered the brand.

The Oxford Learner’s dictionary offers a similar description of xerox as a verb, using the example “Could you xerox this letter, please?” on how to use it. It did not mention the trademark or noun.

So what do you think? Does Xerox have a say on how Filipinos make use of language? Tell us by leaving a comment below, or tweeting us @CoconutsManila.

Read more Coconuts Manila articles here.

Grove: Coconuts Brand Studio

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