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]

  • Capitalize trademarks, being proper names. For details, follow the same style as for titles of published works (See Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Capital letters#Composition titles § Notes.)
    • 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 type is included in the formal name of the product.)
    • another example: The Prime Minister indicated that the police in Miami had confiscated his Apple Watch. (Avoid Apple Watch watch.)
  • Follow standard English text formatting and capitalization practices, 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, The PLAYERS Championship
    • instead, use: Time, Kiss, Asus (Capitalize IBM, IKEA, BRAVIA, as initialisms.), The Players Championship
  • Using all-caps is preferred if the letters are pronounced individually, even if they don't (or no longer) stand for anything. For instance, use SAT for the testing system (formerly the Scholastic Assessment Test) and KFC for the fast-food restaurant (formerly Kentucky Fried Chicken). Using all-lowercase letters may likewise be acceptable if it is done universally by sources, such as with the webcomic xkcd.
  • Do not use the ™ and ® symbols, or similar, in either article text or citations, unless unavoidably necessary for context.
    • 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 or letters (e.g., "♥" used for "love", "!" used for "i") or for normal punctuation, unless a significant majority of reliable sources that are independent of the subject consistently include the special character in the subject's name. Similarly, avoid special stylization, such as superscripting or boldface, in an attempt to emulate a trademark.
    • avoid: macys, 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 only (CamelCase preferred because Playstation is not widely used.)
  • Do not "correct" the spelling, punctuation, or grammar of trademarks.
    • wrong: Craig's List, Pixeler, Über or Ueber, National Basketball Players' Association, Flicker, Tumbler
    • correct: Craigslist, Pixlr, Uber, National Basketball Players Association, Flickr, Tumblr
Exception: In the case of event names and the like that are marketed in more than one way with conflicting style, use the version that best complies with the Wikipedia Manual of Style for the style matter in question.

Mergers, partnerships, and other combined names[edit]

The names of merged companies, partnerships, consolidated divisions, and merged product lines vary by organization, and there are many styles. Beware assumptions about how such names are constructed and what they mean, a complex real example is Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Discover & Co., which resulted from a merger of two corporations, while its name, built from parts of those of previous entities that were themselves the results of mergers, consists of two last names, a first and last name, a company name, and an abbreviation, respectively.

The ampersand (&) is frequently used in business names (e.g. AT&T), and the plus symbol (+) occasionally (as in Springer Science+Business Media), as substitutes for the word "and". A long-standing trend has been to drop the word entirely (along with commas sometimes) in long, multi-party business names, especially after mergers or the addition of a partner (for example, Harcourt, Brace & Company became Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, later part of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).

More recently, some have even taken to removing spaces and using camelcase (e.g. DaimlerChrysler), sometimes unpredictably (as in JPMorgan Chase).

  • Leave compressed names as-is: Do not add "and", a symbol for it, commas, or spaces to such names (e.g. "Houghton, Mifflin & Harcourt") where the trademark holder does not consistently use them, and do not remove them (e.g. "HoughtonMifflinHarcourt") if they are consistently used.
  • The compressed form is not always the one to use: As with the other considerations above, if reliable sources overwhelmingly favor a particular spelling and punctuation, use it in Wikipedia, but do not simply attempt to mimic graphical marketing materials: Gulf and Western Industries is the proper corporation name (Gulf and Western for short), not the Gulf+Western of their logo; while more concise, it is less recognizable and less common.

If in doubt about a modern company, their website's small print, contact page, or legal disclaimers (privacy policy, etc.) may provide the official company name, and online searches of corporation registrations and of trademarks can also be used for this purpose. (Note, however, that Wikipedia article titles are usually given the most common name in reliable sources, which might not be the official name.)

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 proper names are written with initial capital letters wherever they occur in a sentence.

  • With the exception that immediately follows, trademarks promoted without any capitals are capitalized like any other:
    • 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. These are often 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: He bought his iPod on eBay.

Note that not all trademarks that, per their pronunciation, could have fit this pattern actually do so, and should not be re-styled to conform to it (use NEdit not "nEdit", E-Trade not "eTrade"; Xbox, not "xBox").

Indicating stylizations[edit]

In the article about a trademark, it is conventional to give the normal English spelling in the lead, followed by a note, such as "(stylized as ...)", with the stylized version (which may include simple stylization, like capitalization changes, decorative characters, or superscripting, but not colorization, attempts to emulate font choices, or other elaborate effects),[1] then resume using an alternative that follows the usual rules of spelling and punctuation, for the remainder of the article. In other articles that mention the subject, use only the normal English spelling, not the stylization.

However, if the title of the article is the stylized version of the name (e.g. iPod, Deadmau5), it should be given in the boldfaced title recapitulation at the beginning of the lead (i.e., without a "stylized as" note), and used throughout the text (and, in most cases, in other articles that mention it). The lead may also have a note (e.g., "sometimes also written ...") indicating the unstylized version if it is also commonly attested in reliable sources, especially if any confusion could result from its absence.

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 company's 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]

  1. ^ An exception to the "elaborate effects" rule is made at the articles on the TeX and LaTeX text formatting systems, because the more detailed stylizations represent the actual treatment in reliable sources, and also serve to illustrate what these two electronic typesetting systems do.