Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Trademarks

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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 ways with variations in capitalization, punctuation, and formatting.

When deciding how to format a trademark, editors should examine styles already in use by independent sources. From among those, choose the style that most closely resembles standard English - regardless of the preference of the trademark owner. Do not invent new styles that are not used by independent sources. 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

  • 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.)
  • Don't expect readers to know, based on trademarks or brand names, what item is being discussed. For example:
    • use: Police in Miami confiscated 25 stolen Rolex watches.
    • avoid: Police in Miami confiscated 25 stolen Rolexes.
    • 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: (But see exception below under § Trademarks that begin with a lowercase letter.)
  • 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 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. (See also Wikipedia:Article titles § Special characters.)
  • Trademarks in "CamelCase" are a judgment call; the style 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, diacritics, or grammar of trademarks to be different from anything found in reliable sources – the name should be recognizable as referring to the topic.
  • Do not capitalize the word the in a trademark (see WP:Manual of Style/Capital letters § Institutions, and § Capitalization of "The") regardless how the name is styled in logos and the like, except at the beginning of a sentence.[b] Titles of published works do have an initial The capitalized (see WP:Manual of Style/Titles); bands and the like do not (see WP:Manual of Style/Music § Names (definite article)). Rarely, an exception may apply (e.g., The The), but only when consistently treated this way in most reliable sources.

Mergers, partnerships, and other combined names

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 trademarks (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 independent, reliable sources do 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

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:
    • use: I found a Thirtysomething DVD and a pair of Adidas shoes while browsing Craigslist.
    • avoid: I found a thirtysomething DVD and a pair of adidas shoes while browsing craigslist.
  • 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:
    • use: He said that eBay is where he bought his iPod.
    • avoid: He said that EBay is where he bought his IPod.
  • In such a case, rephrase to avoid beginning sentences with lowercase trademarks:
    • use: He bought his iPod on eBay.
    • avoid: eBay is where he bought his iPod.

Not all trademarks with a pronunciation that 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

In the article about a trademark, it is conventional to give the normal English spelling in the lead section, 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),[c] 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

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.

Notes

  1. ^ Toys "R" Us has quotation marks around the R because it is treated this way consistently in reliable sources (probably because the company does this itself in running text, despite that punctuation not being in their graphical logo). This example should not be taken as an instruction to add quotation marks to symbol-for-word substitutions in other proper names, e.g. the film title 2 Fast 2 Furious.
  2. ^ Wikipedia uses sentence case for sentences, article titles, section titles, table headers, image captions, list entries (in most cases), and entries in infoboxes and similar templates, among other things. Any instructions in MoS about the start of a sentence apply to items using sentence case.
  3. ^ 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 electronic typesetting systems do.

See also

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