On September 13, 1955, George de Mestral was granted the patent for VELVET TYPE FABRIC AND METHOD OF PRODUCING SAME (Velcro®), U.S. Patent No. 2,717,437.

George de Mestral, a Swiss engineer and the man credited with inventing Velcro, came up with the idea for Velcro® after he and his dog went on a hike.  After returning from the hike de Mestral and his four-legged friend were covered in burrs. Fascinated by the burrs’ structure, de Mestral examined them further to see if he could replicate their structure into something useful.

De Mestral’s examination of the burrs uncovered minuscule hooks that allowed them to easily attach to whatever they came by. This discovery led to de Mestral’s hook-and-loop fastening system. For de Mestral, creating the hook was the easy part, creating the loop for the hook to attach proved troublesome.  De Mestral experimented with multiple fabrics but found none of them worked how he wanted. While experimenting with different textiles a piece of nylon thread was accidentally added to one of the test fabrics and de Mestral found that nylon was the fabric he needed. It was durable and created a strong bond for the hook to fasten to.

De Mestral decided to name his new creation Velcro®, a combination of the French words “velour” and “crochet” which in French mean velvet hook. 

After the invention was completed de Mestral quickly filed a patent on the material and released it for commercial use shortly after. He marketed it as the “zipperless zipper.” Unfortunately, the product’s success wouldn’t come for years later when NASA adopted its use in the 1960s. NASA used it to secure items such as pens, food, equipment etc. from getting away from them. From there, its popularity grew and it is used in fashion, homes, and businesses today. 

It should be noted that Velcro® Brand is the company’s brand name and not the general term for it which is hook-and-loop. According to Velcro’s® website, “not all hook and loop fasteners are the genuine Velcro brand products!”  Their website also has this genuine, but comical, disclaimer from their legal team regarding the use of the word Velcro®.

“We know. You don’t mean to be a serial verber, but we decided to clear a few things up about using the VELCRO®trademark correctly – because we’re lawyers and that’s what we do. When you use “velcro” as a noun or a verb (e.g., velcro shoes), you diminish the importance of our brand and us lawyers would lose our *insert unfastening sound.*”

There is a reason for this disclaimer; when a term becomes too popular it could potentially lose its trademark protection and become a generic term. This can have a devastating effect on a brand because marks that are merely generic are not subject to trademark protection.

The Velcro® brand company furthered this message by putting together this hilarious YouTube video titled “Don’t Say Velcro.” The video’s intro is “a message from the lawyers at Velcro Companies.”

Suiter Swantz IP is a full-service intellectual property law firm, based in Omaha, NE, serving all of Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota. If you have any intellectual property questions or need assistance with any patent, trademark, or copyright matters and would like to speak with one of our patent attorneys please contact us.