You must use a registered trademark directly on the goods for which you registered the mark, and/or on the packaging it comes in. For a servicemark – a mark for services, rather than goods – it is acceptable to use the mark in advertising or offering the services. For a trademark – a mark for goods – it is not enough to use the mark only in advertising. You have the mark in use in commerce.
Use the ® symbol
You must use the ® symbol with a registered mark. Doing so tells everyone that you have registered your mark for goods or services (or both) that are being sold or offered for sale, and that you – the trademark registrant – are the source of those goods or services. You don’t have to use ® every single time you use the mark, but you should use ® in any prominent location (such as the top of a document or webpage, or imprinted on a product) and use it the first time (or more) that you use the mark in any text. After that, you can use it occasionally throughout the rest of the text. If you registered the mark for more than one class of goods or services, be sure that you’re using it appropriately with regard to each class.
Use ® properly
When you use a registered trademark, put the ® symbol to the right of the mark, and typically in a superscript position: Similarly, if you were asserting your rights in an unregistered trademark or servicemark, you should put TM or SM in a superscript position, such as GOODS™ or SERVICESSM.
Use your mark properly and consistently
You should capitalize your mark consistently: capitalize it at the start, such as Kleenex® or Craftsman®; in the middle of a word, such as eBay® or iPhone®; entirely, such as DEWALT®; or in other arrangements of capitals, such as Chick-fil-A®, LongHorn Steakhouse®, or CYber SYtes. Use your mark as an adjective, not a noun or a verb: you should talk about using a Xerox® photocopier, not using a Xerox or making a xerox.
Of course, if your trademark has become so famous that consumers would never associate your brand with anyone other than you, these rules might be loosened. For example, many people refer to an “iPad” knowing that it refers to a particular tablet. GOOGLE is often used as a verb as in “I need to Google that.” Consumers nevertheless recognize that GOOGLE refers to a particular company.
Trademarks should stand out when you use them in the body of text. Using capital letters, contrasting colors or a font that stands out has the effect of emphasizing that the term is a trademark and not merely another word in the text.
Don’t make a mark plural or possessive
Use your mark as an adjective, and not as a noun that you could make into a plural.
Since trademarks are not nouns, they should not be used in the plural form. If you want to pluralize a trademark, use the plural form of the words they modify.
Unless your trademark is possessive (ie; LEVI’S or MCDONALD’S), you should avoid using it in the possessive form.
Don’t let your mark become generic
Use a registered trademark consistently, and defend it, so that your mark does not become generic. Many former marks have now become words or phrases that generically describe a type of thing. This is “genericide.” Unfortunately for the former owners of the marks, it is extremely difficult or impossible to return a phrase to being a mark after it becomes generic.
Where the inclusion of a trade mark in dictionaries, encyclopedias or other reference materials gives the impression that the trade mark represents the generic name of the goods or services for which it is registered, the publisher shall, at the request of the mark’s proprietor, must indicate that this is a registered trademark – the case of electronic publications immediately, and in the case of printed materials – at the latest in the next edition of the relevant material. This means that part of caring for the brand is to monitor dictionaries, encyclopedias and reference materials for the possible inclusion of your brand as a generic term.
As a trademark registrant, you must be vigilant about use of your registered mark by others – both companies and individuals. You must monitor uses of the mark, and address deliberate misuse. You may want to periodically remind the public that your mark is not a generic term for a type of good or service, but is a brand name associated with you.
A generic mark is not really a trademark, but is simply the only way to refer to a product. Becoming generic is one possible result result of using your mark incorrectly. You cannot stop your competitors from talking about their products by pre-empting the name of the product. Thus, if a mark is not used correctly, so that it becomes the name of the product rather than the source of it, there is a risk of the mark being declared “generic”.
Many manufacturers who find that their brands are becoming generic (or fear that they might be), will run corrective advertising reminding the public not to use their trademarks incorrectly.
Companies should also try to take positive steps if they find others using their marks in a generic way. Often a simple e-mail will get a reference on a website corrected.
- “yo-yo” – originally a trademark of the Duncan company for “return tops”
- “aspirin” – Bayer’s trademark for “acetylsalicylic acid” (and still a registered mark in many countries, especially in Europe) (Believe it or not, “heroin” was also a Bayer trademark at one point)
- “escalator” – Otis Elevator Company’s mark for “moving stairs”
- “zipper” – owned by B.F. Goodrich for “slide fasteners”
- “thermos” – belonged to the Thermos Company for “vacuum flasks” (they still own registrations of “Thermos” for other products such as coolers, etc.)
- “brassiere” for “ladies’ support garment”
- “kerosene” – owned by Abraham Gesner for the petroleum distillate (known as “paraffin” in the UK)
We must not forget that we have to take care of the registered trademark throughout the protection period, which, as we know, with proper management has no time limit. It is not enough just to register a trademark. We need to take good care of it. The above guidelines are basic rules that it is advisable to follow when using a registered trademark.