Re: Trademarks as Nouns

Subject: Re: Trademarks as Nouns
From: Marjorie Hermansen-Eldard <meldard -at- ZZSOFT -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 18 Nov 1998 13:29:02 -0700

Yes, The MS Style Guide states:

"Because legally a trademark is an adjective, Microsoft trademarks should not be used as verbs or as nouns or in the possessive or plural form." (pg. 279 MS Style Guide for Technical Publications)

Marj Hermansen-Eldard
Senior Technical Writer
ZZSoft, Inc.

>>> Mike Christie <Michael_C2 -at- VERIFONE -dot- COM> 11/18 1:07 PM >>>
This one has been bothering me for a while now.

People in our field generally know that, to quote the International
Trademark Association (INTA),

"Trademarks Are Proper Adjectives and Should Be Followed By Generic Terms."
KLEENEX tissues
"Life Savers" candy
Kodak cameras

However, a previous manager of mine insisted that a trademark must always be
used as an adjective, and never as a noun, in each and every occurrence in a
user guide. This means that throughout the book I had to say:

The WhizBangDoItAll software allows you to.... or
To start the WhizBangDoItAll system do the following: or
The WhizBangDoItAll software displays the following message:

and never

WhizBangDoItAll allows you to.... or
To start WhizBangDoItAll do the following: or
WhizBangDoItAll displays the following message:

This can make for some awkward and unnecessarily long sentences in a manual.

Now I fully understand the need to protect a trademark - to use TM or (R) on
the first occurrence, and to never to use a trademark as a plural or
possessive. But isn't this overkill? In its Media Guide the INTA says:

"As a minimum requirement, use the generic term after the trademark at least
once in each written communication and when appropriate, in broadcast
matter, preferably the first time the mark appears."

Now admittedly, we are _not_ The Media, and we _are_ employed by the
trademark owner. But it would seem like an analogous situation, since we are
writing about the product.

When I look at the FrameMaker (R) version 5.5 User Guide, I see that the
Introduction on page 1 starts out "Welcome to Adobe FrameMaker (R)..." I
further notice that the product is always referred to as "FrameMaker," and
never as "the FrameMaker software" or "the FrameMaker publishing system."
Similarly, taking a look at the WinHelp for Quick View Plus (to select a
product from a company, Inso, that no doubt is used to paying close
attention to legal issues) the product name, which in an (R), is always used
as a noun.

Does anyone have any pointers to any authoritative references on this topic?
Does the Microsoft Style Guide address this? (I don't have a copy.)

Thanks for any words of wisdom.


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