Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Trademarks

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

trade names
, and all other names of businesses and similar entities, and products and services thereof.

When deciding how to format a trademark, editors should examine styles already in use by independent reliable sources. From among those, choose the style that most closely resembles standard English – regardless of the preference of the trademark owner. Exceptions may apply, but Wikipedia relies on sources to determine when an unusual name format has become conventional for a particular trademark; only names that are consistently styled a particular way by a substantial majority of independent, reliable sources are styled that way in Wikipedia. Do not invent new styles that are not used by independent reliable sources.

These practices help ensure consistency in language and avoid drawing undue attention to some subjects rather than others. Listed below are more specific recommendations for frequently occurring nonstandard formats.

General rules

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.

The ampersand (&) is frequently used in trademarks (e.g. AT&T), and the plus sign (+) 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

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.

Not all trademarks with a pronunciation that might imply a lowercase letter at the beginning actually do fit this pattern, and should not be re-styled to conform to it (use NEdit not "nEdit", E-Trade not "eTrade"; Xbox, not "xBox").

In some cases, a lowercase prefix longer than one letter is used (e.g.

reliable sources.

Indicating stylizations

In the article about a trademark, give the version that follows the usual rules of spelling and punctuation,

variety of English, with the stylization if one exists and is significantly different. It should also be in bold, and may include simple styling, like capitalization changes, decorative characters, or superscripting (but not colorization, attempts to emulate font choices, or other elaborate effects).[d]
Then resume using the normal English spelling 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. tvOS), it should be given in the boldfaced title recapitulation at the beginning of the lead (i.e., not in 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.

When a stylization appears only in a logo rather than within text (in either primary or independent reliable sources), it generally does not need to be mentioned at the top of the article. For example, Facebook uses a lower case "f" in its logo, while within text it solely uses "Facebook" to refer to itself. Similarly, Wikipedia uses "WIKIPEDIA" in the logo but elsewhere uses "Wikipedia" (although the relevant information is still discussed at the article Wikipedia logo). Adidas, on the other hand, uses "adidas" rather than "Adidas" in running text in the company's own materials, and the stylism is therefore mentioned.

For additional lead-section considerations, see § Multiple, changed, and former names.

Trademarks as article titles

Wikipedia articles are organized around a specific subject, which isn't always the same as an article about a name or phrase. Where a trademark could refer to different subjects or entities, it is best to create different articles. Consider the examples of Atari, Inc. transferring its trademark to Atari SA, or News Corporation splitting into a new corporation called News Corp. Wikipedia's guidelines on disambiguation are most helpful here.

Use of graphic logos

Product logos and corporate logos, such as the stylized rendition of the word Dell used by

or top (usually right) 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.

Multiple, changed, and former names

Regardless of the page title, the lead sentence of an article on a company or other organization should normally begin with its full legal name (the current one or, if defunct, the final one):

  • Generic Publishing Corporation Ltd. is one of the largest publishers of widget books worldwide and is based in ....

Where the most common name in independent, reliable, secondary sources (as reflected in the article title) is substantively different from the legal name, it is normal to mention both in the lead. If a stylized version of the name is also appropriate to include, see § Indicating stylizations. Following an official name change, Wikipedia does not automatically switch to the new one, but follows the most common usage in independent reliable sources written after the change.

Previous names are often better placed in the article body (e.g. under a "History" section) than in the lead, especially if there are several of them.

Aside from in the lead sentence in its own article, use the most common name found in the sources, whenever practical, when referring to an organization or other trademark name in article text.

See also


  1. ^ Whether a particular name is and remains legally trademarked is not relevant, and is something that would vary on a jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction basis, even for the same name. Trying to determine whether something is actually trademarked would often involve a lot of original research using primary-source materials like governmental trademark-registration databases. This is neither necessary nor desirable, as this guideline is about presentation of names used for marketing/branding and similar purposes, not about legal categorizations.
  2. ^ 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.
  3. infoboxes
    and similar templates, among other things. Any instructions in MoS about the start of a sentence apply to items using sentence case.
  4. ^ 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.