Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Trademarks

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For the Wikimedia Foundation's policy on its own trademarks, see wmf:Trademark policy.

Trademarks include words and short phrases used by organizations and individuals to identify themselves and their products and services. Often, these names are written in several different ways with variations in capitalization, punctuation, and formatting.

When deciding how to format a trademark, editors should choose among styles already in use by sources (not invent new ones) and then choose the style that most closely resembles standard English, regardless of the preference of the trademark owner. This practice helps ensure consistency in language and avoids drawing undue attention to some subjects rather than others. Listed below are more specific recommendations for frequently occurring nonstandard formats.

This guideline (in its entirety) applies to all trademarks, all service marks, all business names, and all other names of business entities.

General rules[edit]

Shortcut:
  • Capitalize trademarks, as with proper names.
    • avoid: nintendo
    • instead, use: Nintendo
  • Don't expect readers to know, based on trademarks or brand names, what item is being discussed. For example:
    • avoid: Police in Miami confiscated 25 stolen Rolexes.
    • instead, use: Police in Miami confiscated 25 stolen Rolex watches.
    • however: The Prime Minister indicated that the Cadbury Creme Egg was delicious. (This is allowed because the product name includes the product type.)
  • Follow standard English text formatting and capitalization rules, even if the trademark owner considers nonstandard formatting "official", as long as this is a style already in widespread use, rather than inventing a new one:
    • avoid: TIME, KISS, ASUS
    • instead, use: Time, Kiss, Asus
  • Using all caps is preferred if the letters are pronounced individually, even if they don't stand for anything. For instance, use SAT for the (U.S.) standardized test or KFC for the fast food restaurant. Using all lowercase letters may likewise be acceptable if it is done universally by sources, such as with xkcd.
  • Do not use the ™ and ® symbols, or similar, in either article text or citations, unless unavoidably necessary for context (for instance, to distinguish between generic and brand names for drugs).
    • avoid: LittleBigPlanet™, REALTOR®
    • instead, use: LittleBigPlanet, Realtor
  • Avoid using special characters that are not pronounced, are included purely for decoration, or simply substitute for English words (e.g., ♥ used for "love") or for normal punctuation. In the article about a trademark, it is acceptable to use decorative characters the first time the trademark appears, but thereafter, an alternative that follows the standard rules of punctuation should be used:
    • avoid: macy*s, skate., [ yellow tail ], Se7en, Alien3, Toys Я Us
    • instead, use: Macy's, Skate, Yellow Tail, Seven, Alien 3, Toys "R" Us
  • Trademarks in CamelCase are a judgment call. CamelCase may be used where it reflects general usage and makes the trademark more readable.
    • OxyContin or Oxycontin—editor's choice
    • however: PlayStation (This is allowed because Playstation is not widely used.)

Trademarks that begin with a lowercase letter[edit]

Trademarks that officially begin with a lowercase letter raise several problems because they break the normal capitalization rules of English that trademarks, as proper names, are written with initial capital letters wherever they occur in a sentence.

  • With the exception that immediately follows, trademarks rendered without any capitals are capitalized:
    • avoid: The television show thirtysomething is a television show that could have been sponsored by adidas, but not by craigslist, because the show was over before craigslist existed.
    • instead, use: The television show Thirtysomething is a television show that could have been sponsored by Adidas, but not by Craigslist, because the show was over before Craigslist existed.
  • The exception is trademarks that begin with a one-letter lowercase prefix pronounced as a separate letter are not capitalized if the second letter is capitalized, but should otherwise follow normal capitalization rules:
    • avoid: He said that EBay is where he bought his IPod.
    • instead, use: He said that eBay is where he bought his iPod.
  • In the case of this exception, rephrase to avoid beginning sentences with such trademarks:
    • avoid: eBay is where he bought his iPod.
    • instead, use something like: He bought his iPod on eBay.

Use of graphic logos[edit]

Product logos and corporate logos, such as the stylized rendition of the word Dell used by Dell Inc., whether copyrighted or not, may be used once in the infobox or corner of articles about the related product, service, company, or entity.

Although many companies claim copyright over their logos, the use of the logo in an encyclopedia article may be considered fair use. Please tag logo images with {{non-free logo}}. Some logos are free content because they are in the public domain or are under a free license: for example, logos consisting of short text may not be eligible for copyright protection, and old logos that were published without a copyright notice have likely fallen into the public domain. When this is definitely the case, the {{trademark}} tag may be used instead. However, when in doubt err on the side of caution per non-free content policy by assuming that the logo is copyrighted.

Note that non-free logos should only be used in the infoboxes of the primary article(s) to which they are affiliated; i.e. a company logo may be used in the article about that company, but not in a separate article about one of the companies' products.

Distinguish clearly between the trademark and the company name when, as with Dell, it is customary to do so. Company names should normally be given in the most common form in English; only specify International Business Machines Corporation to state that that is the legal name, otherwise call it IBM, as our sources do.

See also[edit]