Ask PTB – Including Trademark Symbol In Company Name

TrademarkKandee asks “Hi Kathy, How would you transcribe a company name that has the trademark symbol at the end of the name? Do you include it? Not include it? Thanks!”

Thanks, Kandee, for the question. We have a client that uses the trademark symbol as part of their company name and we include it in the legal documents we prepare for them. We don’t include it in correspondence, but in pleadings and agreements, we do.

The Gregg Reference Manual indicates that holders of trademarks typically use the symbol (™ or ®) after their trademarks in all correspondence, promotional material, and product packaging. In material of a commercial nature that will be publicly distributed, use a raised symbol after each trademark. In other documents, symbols are not necessary. One way to be certain is to look on the company’s website and see how they treat it. I find that that information is typically at the bottom of the first page of the website under “company information” or a similar category.

However, a quick check of the United States Patent and Trademark Office website ( indicates that while you are not required to register a trademark or service mark, only those who do register it can use the “®” mark. Trademarks or service marks that are unregistered use the ™ and ℠ symbols.

In a Forbes article interviewing a trademark attorney, she indicates that use of the symbol is only necessary the first time the trademarked phrase appears in articles, press releases, promotional materials, etc., or with the most prominent placement of the mark. She says it is easy to overuse the mark and that takes away from the visual appeal of documents.

But we all know that legal writing is different. In my opinion, it is important to be consistent with the correct use of words, so I would personally use the symbol in each instance in legal documents. That way someone couldn’t come back later and question the status of the trademark or service mark because it isn’t used consistently.

I think the short answer is to use the symbol if the company uses it—and use it every time—in legal documents.


Grammar Giggle – Starbucks _ _ _ _ _ (Fill in the Blank)

Proofreading isn’t only important on paper and it isn’t only spelling. It’s making sure the functionality of whatever you are putting your work on doesn’t accidentally change what you say–sometimes to fairly disastrous consequences. As much as it pains me to share this picture because of my love of Starbucks, it does illustrate an important point.


Bubble Wrap, Champagne, and Solo Cups–Sounds Like a Party!

18394703_sIn listening to one of my favorite podcasts (Stop! … Grammar Time*) on the way to work recently, one of the topics was products that are a brand name and should be capitalized even though generic products are commonly called by the brand name. There are many of them. Here are a few:

Adobe – brand name of PDF program, even though some people say “Adobe” when they are referring to a PDF

Astroturf – brand of artificial grass

Band-Aid – brand of bandage

Boogie board – Boogie is a tradename for body board

BOOKS ON TAPE -brand name for audiobooks

Breathalyzer -brand name for breath alcohol testing equipment

Bubble Wrap – brand name for cushioning product for shipping

Champagne – sparkling wine that comes from the Champagne region of France.  Sparkling wine from anywhere other than the Champagne region of France cannot be called “Champagne” but must be called “sparkling wine.”

Clicker – brand name of garage door opener

Clorox – brand name of bleach

Coke – brand name for cola flavored soda – short for Coca Cola

Disposall – brand name for garbage disposer in the sink

Dixie cup – Dixie is brand name for disposable cup

Dumpster – trademarked brand name for type of trash bin

Frisbee – trade name for flying disc toy

Jacuzzi – brand name of hot tub

Jet Ski – brand name for personal watercraft

Karo – brand name of corn syrup

Kitty Litter – brand name of cat box filler

Kleenex – brand name of tissue

La-Z-Boy – brand name of recliner

Levi’s – brand name of denim pants

Mace – brand name of pepper spray

Magic Marker – brand name of permanent marker

Plexiglass – brand name of acrylic sheet

Popsicle – brand name of frozen ice pop

Post-it – brand name of sticky notes

Q-tips – brand name of cotton swab

Rolodex – brand name of contact card system

Scotch Tape – brand name of invisible tape

Seeing Eye dog – name of organization that trains dogs for use by blind people

SHEETROCK – brand name of gypsum panel

Solo cup – Solo is brand name of disposal cup

Styrofoam – brand name of plastic foam

Super Glue – brand name of permanent adhesive

Tabasco – brand name of hot pepper sauce

Taser – brand name of stun gun

Vaseline – brand name of petroleum jelly products

Velcro – brand name of hook and loop fastener

WD-40 – brand name of rust-prevention solvents and degreasers

Windbreaker – brand name of wind resistant sports jacket

Windex – brand name of window cleaner

Wite-Out – brand name of correction fluid

Xerox – brand name of copier equipment

Yellow Pages – brand name of telephone directory advertising section

Ziploc – brand name of reusable, re-sealable zipper storage bag

These brand names should be used only when talking about that specific brand and should then be properly capitalized.


*Note that “Stop . . . Grammar Time” contains language that might be offensive to some but is still a very informative podcast.