Re: Trademarks as Nouns

Subject: Re: Trademarks as Nouns
From: Robert Bennett <RBENNETT -at- TECHDATA -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 18 Nov 1998 16:29:01 -0500

I think the INTA guide instruction is the best "rule of thumb" we are
likely to get.

My understanding is that the owners of the trademarks own the trademarks
and can insist on (i.e. sue you for violating) the strict adjective-only
usage if they want to. They rarely do, but they could. This is the
difference between the letter of the law and what we all normally get
away with. It sounds like your previous manager might have been a
paranoid Virgo.

Most (conscientious) trademark owners publish instructions on exactly
how we are supposed to use their trademarks. I've seen a few and most
stay pretty close to the INTA guideline.

That's the end of what I know about it.


> ----------
> From: Mike Christie[SMTP:Michael_C2 -at- VERIFONE -dot- COM]
> Reply To: Mike Christie
> Sent: Wednesday, November 18, 1998 3:07 PM
> To: TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU
> Subject: Trademarks as Nouns
> 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.
> Mike
> ======================================================================
> =====
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