Trademarks & brandnames

The companies that own Kodak, Barbie Dolls, Microsoft, IBM and other well-known trade marks and brand names, have legal teams working full-time making sure authors, journalists and publishers use their trade marks correctly.  Some brand names and trade marks are worth billions, and they must protect these valuable properties.

The brand name Coca-Cola, is in the balance sheet at US$67 billon.  Journalists should act correctly and use trade marks (or brand names) 100% correctly.  After all, you would not like to be called “whatsisname” instead of your own name.

Remember, you may not need to use the trade mark and perhaps a generic name or description would do as well.  But usually it’s better to be specific and use the brand.

But if you DO use a trade mark, get it right — capitals, punctuation, spaces or no spaces, spelling.  Don’t make a mistake: editors are hugely unimpressed by freelancers who misspell famous brand names.  And don’t pluralise a brand name, such as writing Cokes or Harley-Davidsons.  Instead say “cans of Coke” or Harley-Davidson motorcycles”.  Coke is a brand name but Cokes is not a brand name.

In Australian journalism, there is no need to insert the ™ sign for “trade mark” nor any need to insert the ® sign for “registered trade mark”.  To do a quick check of a trade mark, go to your phone directory, or the internet or both.  Meanwhile, here’s a partial guide to correct use:

Wrong use Correct use Generic use
aero-guard Aerogard aerosol insect repellent
Adidas adidas sportswear
aqualung Aqualung underwater breathing gear
aspro Aspro aspirin
astroturf AstroTurf artificial grass
band-aid, or, Band-Aid Band-aid adhesive bandage
barby doll Barbie Doll popular dress-able doll
benneton Benetton (full name: The United Colors of Benetton) controversial fashion house
Beyond Blue beyondblue organisation fighting depression
biro Biro ballpoint pen
bobcat Bobcat skid-steer loader (work vehicle)
Boheme Bohême snow skis
boxercise Boxercise exercise with boxing movements
brethalyzer Breathalyzer breath tester for blood/alcohol level
cellophane Cellophane transparent wrapping
chevy Chevy(short for Chevrolet) American-made vehicle
coke, or, Coca Cola Coke, or, Coca-Cola popular cola drink
cyclone Cyclone chain-link fence
Drizabone, or, Driza-bone Driza-Bone Australian oilskin coat
dumpster Dumpster large waste receptacle
Dunn and Brad Street Dun & Bradstreet company that provides a ratings directory and credit reports of corporations
Dunking Doughnuts Dunkin’ Donuts US chain of doughnut shops
duco Duco paint on a car, or, car paint
Ebay eBay, but sometimes EBay if it starts a sentence online auction business
Elasto-plaster Elastoplast sports injury bandages
esky, or, eskies Esky, or, Eskys food and drink cooler
ferris wheel Ferris wheel Not a brand-name.  But since it is named after the US engineer GWG Ferris, it is more correct to use capital F (as “Time” insists), though small f is accepted in Australia
formica Formica laminated plastic
frisbee or frisbie Frisbee plastic flying disco
game-boys Game Boy hand-held computer toy
gladwrap Glad Wrap clear soft plastic wrapping
go kart Go Kart 2- or 4-stroke low level racing vehicle
Gortex Gor-Tex weatherproof clothing
Hagen Dazz Häagen-Dazs specialty ice-cream chain store
Harly Davison Harley-Davidson American-made motorcycle
Hewlett Packard Hewlett-Packard computer and software company
hoover Hoover vacuum cleaner
Hungary Jacks Hungry Jack’s hamburger restaurant chain
Jack Daniels Jack Daniels whiskey famous old Tennessee whiskey
jet ski Jet Ski jet-powered watercraft for one or two people
Johnson and Johnson Johnson + Johnson makers of personal items and medications
Kentucky Fried Chicken KFC chicken fast food outlet
kleenex Kleenex paper handkerchief or soft paper tissues
K-Mart Kmart chain of inexpensive homewares stores
laundromat Laundromat self-service laundry
Leggos Leggo’s packaged spaghetti sauce
leggo Lego toy building blocks
levies, or levis Levi’s jeans
Light and Easy Lite n’ Easy cooked meals, home-delivered, on a diet plan
lycra Lycra spandex fibre clothing
M and Ms M&M’s candy-coated chocolates
MacDonalds McDonald’s hamburger restaurant chain
mace Mace tear gas
masonite Masonite hardboard products
mixmaster Mixmaster food mixer
muzak Muzak piped music
Myers Myer department store chain
Nestles Nestlé brand name of many food products
novocain Novocain novocaine, or anesthetic
perspex Perspex transparent plastic
Pepsi-Cola Pepsi   (Pepsi-Cola is correct but no longer used) popular cola drink
Pin-A-Clean Pine O Cleen pine-scented multi-purpose liquid cleaning agent
polaroid Polaroid instant photo equipment
post-it Post-it stick-on notes
pressure pack Pressure-pak aerosol can, or pressurised container
primus Primus pressurised kerosene stove
pyrex or pyrox Pyrex heat-resistant glassware
Quantas or Q.A.N.T.A.S. Qantas Australian airline
Raggedy-Anne Raggedy Ann child’s doll
Ritz Carlton Ritz-Carlton worldwide chain of luxury hotels
rollerblades Rollerblades in-line roller-skates
Rolls Royce Rolls-Royce luxury British car
scotch tape Scotch Tape clear adhesive tape
Spiderman Spider-Man superhero with powers of a spider
tabasco Tabasco hot sauce
teflon Teflon non-stick coating
texta Texta felt tip pens in many colours
Thermarest Therm-a-Rest self-inflating camping mattress
thermos Thermos vacuum flask
Thrifty rental cars Thrifty Car Rentals well-known vehicle rental company
(no wrong use) Ugg or Ugh (boots).  Also correct: uggs, ug boots, uggboots (one word), ugg shoe or ugh boots. Ugg or ugh was generic for boots made of sheepskin with the fleece inside.  But in 2004 an American company trade-marked “Ugg” and “Ugh” as its own.
vaseline Vaseline petroleum jelly
velcro Velcro hook and loop fastener
VirginBlue Virgin Blue no frills airline
Vodaphone Vodafone mobile phone service provider
Walmart Wal*Mart or Wal-Mart US retail store chain
walkman Walkman Portable cassette (or CD) player
Weightwatchers Weight Watchers weight loss program
Wet and Wild Wet ‘n’ Wild Gold Coast theme park
windcheater Windcheater wind jacket
zerox Xerox photocopier
4X XXXX famous Queensland beer


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